My name is Ethan Stemper, I am in eleventh grade and shoot for Lakes International Language Academy in Forest Lake, Minnesota. This season (2022-2023) is my fifth year shooting for NASP® and I recently shot at the NASP Western National Tournament in Sandy, Utah. It was my third time attending the Western National Tournament since I first went in 2019, and my school’s second time attending the tournament to shoot as a team as of last year. My (high school) team was optimistic about placing in both 3D and Bullseye. We placed 3rd last year in the 3D tournament and knew that our scores this year were trending in a direction that would have us placing in the top three, according to the scores set the year prior at the same tournament. Knowing this information beforehand, we were optimistic about doing well going into the tournament.
Before going to the tournament I had made a goal for myself: I wanted to shoot a 290 or above in both the 3D and Bullseye tournaments. I knew this was an achievable goal because I have done so in past tournaments with my personal bests being 295 in Bullseye and 292 in 3D. The hardest part about shooting well is keeping a flawless mindset through the whole tournament and not losing focus on shooting every arrow to its full potential. Any arrow that doesn’t go into the ten ring is a point off of 300, and my goal only allowed for ten points lost, max.
Luckily, I was able to shoot all of my rounds on Saturday. I prefer getting all of my shooting for a tournament done on the same day instead of having it split up between two days. I warm up during my first flight and carry the momentum into my second flight. I like to shoot my 3D tournament first because it feels like a game that I can use to prepare myself for the more serious tone of the Bullseye tournament. In 3D, aim points move, you switch targets, and the targets are in interesting shapes; all features that make it feel like a game.
The tournament day began early in the morning. My first flight was at 9:00 AM. Fortunately for me, it was my 3D flight. I arrived at the Mountain America Expo Center around 7:30 AM to prepare myself and talk with my teammates about the tournament. As common with other archers, my team and I do not allow ourselves to look at or hear about posted scores for the tournament before we shoot. It helps us to keep our heads clear and relieves the pressure of knowing about a score that we have to beat in order to reach the top. When it came time to shoot, I performed my stretching routine with my team, grabbed all of my equipment, and lined up with my team to walk to the shooting line to shoot. My 3D flight went pretty well, but I ended up shooting just below what I was hoping for. I shot a 288 which was just under my goal of 290, but more importantly, there were some other kids on my team who shot well too. Our team score of 1703 was pretty good, but we were anxious about how well it would hold up for the rest of the tournament.
I took time to relax and eat lunch to prepare for the upcoming Bullseye tournament at 2:00pm. My Bullseye shoot went alright, though I was a bit disappointed with my ten-meter rounds because that subtracted four points from my score alone. Thankfully I continued into my fifteen-meter rounds and only lost five points there, equaling a score of 291 in total. I was pretty happy with my score even with the disappointing ten-meter rounds so I shared it with my teammates and it turned out that a good number of them had also shot very well. I went to check the scores on the NASP® Tournaments website after I had finished shooting and was excited to see that our team score for the Bullseye tournament was the highest it’s ever been at 3357! Not only that but both our Bullseye and 3D team scores were currently ranked number one in the tournament! The only thing left to do was wait until the awards ceremony to see if we could hold onto a double first-place finish.
When it came time for the awards ceremony, I walked over to the front row of the awards stage with my team and sat down together with them. We were all incredibly anxious to find out whether or not we had held on to our first-place standing. Before we found out about our team scores, individual awards were distributed. My score of 288 in 3D turned out to not be enough to place, but my 291 in Bullseye ended up earning me a third-place finish! My teammate, Jacob Leach, ended up placing second in 3D with a score of 293. My other teammate, Jameson Rydeen, was tied for the top overall male score in both Bullseye and 3D, he had to participate in a shoot-off for both events for the opportunity to win top male honors. You can find his own account of the shoot-offs in his article that he wrote for NASP here, but to summarize, he won both shoot-offs! My heart rate during his shoot-offs was very high, his must have been even higher due to all of the pressure he was under! He shot well and I’m very proud of his performance at nationals and throughout this whole season.
Next came the part our whole team was waiting for, the team awards. First up was 3D, we waited to hear the scores for the high school teams after the elementary and middle school teams were done with their awards. We heard the score called for the third-place team, it was lower than what we had shot! This confirmed that our team had placed either second or first, we were just waiting to hear the next scores to get the confirmation. The second-place team score was called… It was still lower than what we had shot! We were the first-place high school champion team for 3D! And even more thrilling, the same thing happened for the Bullseye team awards! Our team finished first in both 3D and Bullseye! This was a historical accomplishment as no other team from Minnesota has ever placed first at a NASP® National Tournament in either Bullseye or 3D!
I had a great time at the 2023 NASP Western National Tournament shooting with my friends, getting to meet other people from all over, and especially winning the championship title for Bullseye and 3D with my team. With my success at the Western National Tournament, I qualified for the NASP® Open Championship in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in June and have made arrangements to shoot there along with my teammates Jameson Rydeen and Brecken Lee. If you’re also going to shoot at the Open Championship and see me while you’re there, please come and say hello!
Ethan Stemper is a guest contributor for the 2023 Student Contributors Program.