My name is Brennan Stephens, and I am in the 11th grade in Kentucky. I have shot archery for seven years, beginning when I was in fifth grade. I began shooting archery the year my school started the NASP®️ program. I shot a 193 out of 300 at my first tournament and placed 34th out of 67 elementary males at the tournament. I was only able to participate in one other tournament that year, being regionals. At the regional tournament, I shot a 205, placing 28th out of 93.
Putting in the work
During my sixth-grade year, I began to practice more at home. I raised my score to 265.
At the beginning of my seventh-grade year, I set a goal of shooting in the 270s by the end of the season.I began rearranging the furniture in my basement so that I could practice at home.
My seventh-grade year was when archery changed from merely another sport to a passion that I gave it my all. I qualified for state that year, and along with three other archers from my school became the first archers to go to state. At state, I shot my first 280, and it was one of the best archery experiences I have had to date.
Raising the bar
At the time I thought it had been hard to get from the 260s to a 280, but I found out that archery just gets harder from there.
My eighth-grade season was when I really put my effort into high gear. I began to shoot an average of 50 arrows in my basement for about five days a week. I placed first in eight tournaments that year and I even won top overall male in several of these tournaments as a middle schooler.
Rose Hill had a great archery team that year that was able to go all the way to nationals, and I qualified for the Championship that year. At the Championship in Nashville, Tennessee I placed fifth out of the middle school boys, scoring a 292. Accepting that award, on such a large stage, was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. That was a particularly hard season because my team, my coaches, and friends all expected me to win every tournament.
Unfortunately, my ninth-grade year was uneventful due to covid. At the virtual National tournament last year, I shot my high of 295, qualifying for the Championship in Myrtle Beach where I shot a 294 and placed 7th in the nation. This year I have won five out of six tournaments and I am the top archer in my region.
I have not been shooting at the level I would like to recently, however, more practice will help me improve.
Shooting through the mental barriers
My goal has been the same since the beginning, I just want to outshoot myself. I am never beat by others; I am always the reason I win or lose. The tournaments I lose are not lost on the range, but in my head.
The most difficult part of archery is in the mind. I can practice my draw, release, and follow-through, but I cannot simulate the stress of a tournament in my basement. It is difficult to shoot in a tournament when you have coaches from other teams, even other divisions asking what you are going to shoot that day. If I lose a tournament, I most likely let my nerves get the best of me. I am currently trying to shoot above a 293 consistently.
I have played several sports and I believe archery is the best sport that you can participate in.
-Brennan Stephens is a 2022 student contributor. Watch for his future submissions.-