Young archers on target at state

BEND — William Tell would be proud.

Three young sharpshooters from the Appleknocker Bowmen tested their skills at the Oregon Bowhunters State Indoor Shoot March 1-2 in Bend.

And one, 13-year-old Jessica Miller of Odell, walked away with the top prize in the youth female freestyle division.

“I was pretty nervous the first day,” said the Wy’east Middle School eighth grader. “But I was still able to tie my best score ever (249 out of 300). Then, on the second day, I shot my best score ever (262), so I was happy.”

Miller attended the shoot with her father, Steve, who competed in the men’s bowhunter freestyle division and took ninth place.

“My dad taught me everything,” said Jessica, who had never participated in an indoor shoot. “I started watching him when I was really young at the outdoor shoots. He got me a new bow for Christmas and that’s when I really started getting into it.”

Other Appleknocker representatives at the state shoot were Kelsey and Kyle Griffith of Hood River.

Kelsey took second in the youth female free-style division, while Kyle took third in the youth male freestyle division.

Hot on their trail in the years to come will be Miller’s younger sister Shelley (10) and brother Nick (6).

“They all got into archery around the same time,” mother Rita said. “I’m the only one in the family who doesn’t shoot. But I still have fun going to the events.”

With all the young talent in her family, chances are Rita will have plenty more opportunities to scope out future shoots like the one Sunday, March 24 at the Appleknockers’ home range on Swyer’s Drive.

“You really learn a lot by watching,” Jessica said. “There are a lot of really good shooters around here. And the more you compete, the more you get into good habits.”

Jessica and Shelley both spoke of habits such as holding the bow steady and a fluid release as being keys to consistent shooting.

“It takes really good eyesight and patience,” said Shelley, who hopes to compete at next year’s state shoot. “It also takes a lot of practice.”

The Millers and Griffiths will continue to hone their skills on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Mid-Valley Elementary School for the upcoming 3D outdoor shoots this summer.

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