One Arrow at a Time
Posted on 30 September 2015
At some point in everyone’s life, they find a passion for something. The idea that “passion is the foundation of everything you do in life,” and that to have a passion for something, you must work hard to achieve your goals. For some, this is sports, academics, or something entirely different, however, for me, my passion comes from 6am mornings, hours spent coaching, and endless weekends spent at tournaments; undoubtedly, archery is my passion. From the time I began shooting 7 years ago, I knew that I wanted to share my passion for archery with others, and that I wanted to help them achieve their own goals in any way I could. As an individual, I enjoy the thought of doing something unique and made the decision to become a competitive archer. I did not know that the decision would have the greatest influence in shaping the individual I am today and what world of opportunities it would open for me.
When my 6th grade gym teacher announced that we would be doing an archery unit in class, I was really excited to try something different and something that I really didn’t know much about. I stood on the line watching the groups in front of me, most of them were able to hit the target once or twice, and then it was my turn. Picking up the Genesis bow and loading the arrow for the first time, I aimed at the target and released. My arrow went immediately into the grass, and so did every shot after, I managed to miss the target every arrow I sent down range. I left class that day realizing archery wasn’t the sport for me. However, a few weeks later my teacher announced that he was forming an archery team following the guidelines of a new program that had been introduced. The National Archery In the Schools Program and the VDGIF was sponsoring this new program and was hosting the first Virginia NASP State tournament. He explained that the team would train and compete in the state tournament and if we were interested that we could join the team. Although I had decided that archery wasn’t for me just a few weeks before, I decided to give it another try.
Competing in my first NASP state tournament brought a whole new world to my eyes. The diversity that was in the room, the excitement and spirit that everyone displayed was an amazing experience. Although I didn’t shoot a great score in the tournament, I realized that I was becoming hooked to this new sport. I continued to shoot archery and practice as much as I could, bought my own bow and continued to improve over the next year or so. I wasn’t the best shooter on the team, nor was I the most experienced, however, I enjoyed archery and the family bond that was presented with my team. It wasn’t until my third year of archery that something seemed to click. At the 2011 VA NASP state tournament I set a new personal record of 280/300, winning the female middle school division and shooting the highest score of the tournament. The feeling of excitement that I experienced had shown that my patience and hard work was starting to pay off. More than ever, my passion for this sport exploded into something more than I would have ever expected. I wanted to learn as much as I could, and for the first time I was able to picture myself with a future in archery.
The idea that “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,” is something that I work to live by. Although I have faced great adversity throughout my archery career, I have worked to overcome these obstacles and continue to help others improve to higher standards. Following my third year as a competitive archer, I entered high school, eager for more opportunities to compete at the high school level. The only problem was, my high school did not have an official archery team. Therefore, I sought to change that. I recruited thirty team members to create a high school team. However, a couple months from the state tournament, I became injured, which prevented me from being able to shoot. Though it was difficult, I saw this as an opportunity to help others improve and share my knowledge with them. For the couple months leading up to the competition, I shadowed my coach, and learned how to make bow repairs, help my teammates, as well as coach the middle school team. Fortunately, I was able to compete in the tournament. Even after my injury had prevented me from shooting for 6 weeks, I managed to place third for the high school female division. I continue to value the idea that in order to inspiring others, one must lead by example.
I have continued to assist in coaching the high school and middle school teams, as well as instructing beginners and teaching archery camps alongside my coach. It has helped to teach me responsibility and patience. Learning to help others to improve their skills has also helped me to reflect on my own shooting and see things I could improve on myself. Watching the excitement they experience when they hit the target or learn something new continues to ignite my passion. I have learned that “in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take”. I like the idea that we should take risks, and when an opportunity is presented to us, we should take it. I reflect this quote in my dream of someday becoming a professional archer and competing internationally. At the beginning of my junior year, I was offered a spot on a Junior Olympic Archery Development team and have had the opportunity to compete in state and nationally, which was the next step in achieving my dream. Remembering, “if you can dream it, you can achieve it”.
Through competing with NASP and JOAD throughout my high school career I realized I aspired to continue my archery career at the collegiate level. However, I didn’t know of any colleges that offered an archery program, but through research and some close friends I found University of the Cumberlands. I contacted the coach and discussed my interest in shooting in college and that I intended to apply to go to school there and how I could possibly earn a spot on their team. Through some correspondence, I was able to tour the campus and talk to the coach in person. I immediately fell in love with the school and the spirit that the coach and the team had for archery. I worked even harder to improve with my new compound set up, worked with my coaches and a little over a year later, after being accepted to attend UC, I signed as a member of the 2015-2016 University of the Cumberlands Archery team with a partial archery scholarship.
Taking this next step in life, as well as in my archery career, makes me reflect on the past 7 years.Thinking that 7 years ago I would have never pictured myself as the individual I am today, or that I would be soon competing as a collegiate athlete. Archery has opened a whole new world to me, given me confidence, patience, and taught me to work hard for my goals. I love archery; the bond that archers share, the connection with coaches, the excitement when the arrow hits the center, and meeting so many people with the same passions and aspirations.
I am continuing to work hard towards my dreams as well as continue to be thankful for the opportunities I have been presented. Archery has impacted my life in a greater way possible than i could have ever imagined. It has taught me so much, and inspired me in ways I would have never thought possible. Realizing that “you can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus, and the support”. That anyone can achieve their dreams by working towards them one arrow at a time.
Hey y'all, I'm Danielle. I am from Mechanicsville, Virginia, and currently attend the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. I am a member of the UC Archery Team with a background of 7 years in the NASP program and 2 years in JOAD. I have been inspired by this sport and truly have a passion for archery and I hope to share that passion and inspiration with others.