Family · Sports

Presley the Archer

At the start of the 2015-16 school year, much to our surprise, our eldest daughter came home from school and announced that she was taking up archery. Since we don’t hunt or regularly shoot or have any sort of projectile-based hobbies, we were intrigued. Not upset or concerned, just a bit curious.

It turns out that her middle school has a wonderful youth archery program (that continues all the way through the high school). After several weeks of instruction on form and procedures and etiquette, she was excited to begin shooting: drawing back her bowstring and putting arrows onto a target 10 or 15 meters away. So excited, in fact, that she asked for a bow for Christmas that year.

Unfortunately, about a week before Christmas, she tripped coming off the risers in choir practice and sustained what we later discovered was a dislocation of her right elbow (the initial swelling was so bad that the severity of the injury wasn’t realized for at least a week). As you can imagine, just attempting to draw the bowstring back was incredibly painful. She was unable to shoot for several weeks, and then, upon her return, it took her several more weeks to rebuild her arm strength (and accuracy) to the point where she could compete for a spot on the school’s “Competition Team”. Sadly, she didn’t qualify.

Undeterred, she worked hard to fully heal her elbow and continued to practice in our yard over the year until it was time for her archery season to begin again. She attended practices during and after school, managed to stay healthy, and earned a spot on this years Competition Team. Last Saturday, she and her teammates represented their middle school at the Regional Archery Tournament at Hillcrest High School in Lynn, AR.

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For a kid competing for the very first time, I was impressed by her composure and focus. I’m certain that her singing and speech performances at last month’s Jr Beta Convention helped prepare her for the day. If she can hop on-stage and sing “I Feel Pretty” in front of a thousand or so spectators, firing her arrows in front of other archers and their parents in a small gym was no sweat.

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It looked to me that she started off a bit erratic in her practice round, but quickly found her groove and amazed me as she fired off arrow after arrow, hitting in or near the center of the target. I later discovered that what I thought was inconsistency in the practice round was actually her getting a “feel” for her aim and accuracy. She continued on, scoring more and more points, and even managed to regain her focus after two less-than-stellar shots didn’t work out exactly as planned. She regrouped and regained her form, as well as her consistency. As a testament to how well she performed in competition that day, she was ecstatic after her very last arrow, normally when her arm and concentration are suffering from fatigue, nailed the dead center of the bull’s-eye.

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At the end of the day, she had completed her round with her personal best score. And although her team didn’t finish in the Top 3 and advance to the State Tournament, we could not have been prouder of the way she overcame setbacks, worked towards a goal, put herself in a competitive mindset, and stepped up to deliver the best performance of her career (so far)! Her experiences over the last two seasons of archery have taught her so much more than simply how to hit a target with a bow and arrow, and we look forward to watching her continue to grow as both a person and a competitor.

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