In 2004, at the age of 13, I competed in the first-ever NASP® state championship at the Kentucky Horse Park. I was completely unaware of the difficult year that would follow for me and my family, and what archery would end up meaning to me.
Shortly after that competition, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Amidst days of Mom losing her hair and our fear we might lose her; I found an escape in our basement archery range.
I must have shot thousands of arrows that year. Archery was something I could control and as long as I was practicing, everything seemed a bit less scary. It was a long and difficult year, but by its end, mom beat cancer and archery had become something I not only loved but at which I excelled. For Christmas that year, I received a custom-painted pink bow. In the early days of NASP®, bows came in very few colors, and I felt special having something that represented my family’s journey.
In the summer of 2006, we moved to a new town and my new school didn’t have an archery program. I couldn’t imagine giving it up, so I helped start a new team. Slowly, the program gained traction and we qualified for regional, and then state, and then the national championship.
The 2007 national archery championship was a blur. I was honestly thrilled just to be able to compete since our team had not even existed the year prior. Out of some magic combination of practice and a forced, concreted calm, I shot really well and qualified for the scholarship shootout held between the top 10 archers. While waiting and talking with the four other girls in the shootout, I learned I had won the tournament.
When I stood on the first-place podium, my mom’s smiling face was the first thing I saw.
After I won the national tournament, I was asked to write an article for an archery magazine about Mom’s breast cancer battle and my national championship. Matthews Archery then decided to begin the “Aiming for a Cure” campaign, which mass-produces an exact replica of my pink bow and to this day, still donates a portion of each sale to breast cancer research. As of 2023, “Aiming for a Cure” has raised thousands of dollars for breast cancer research and continues to donate proceeds for every pink bow sold.
Through participation in NASP®, I made some great friends, grew in self-confidence, gained self-discipline, and not only learned to believe I was capable, but found through practice that I indeed was. I learned archery isn’t about competing against other archers. Instead, it’s a competition against yourself. If you can hit the bullseye once, you can do it again. Once an arrow is shot, you can’t get it back and it won’t serve you to worry about it. Instead, you must focus on the next shot, and then the one after that. That’s true for archery, and true for life after NASP®.
Archery made a profound impact on my life and I hope it does the same for you. Thank you NASP®!