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Field Notes

Bethel University Archery Team Excel in National Championship

By Brenda Valentine
First Lady of Hunting®

October, 2012

The first major competition road trip for the Bethel University Archery Team took place Oct 19, 20 and 21 near Columbia, Missouri. Student archers representing 19 colleges and universities gathered at the Prairie Grove Shooting Complex to find out who were the champions of USCA 3-D archery.

After the six-hour drive everyone was ready to sling a few arrows on the practice range. We encountered a swift north wind and a sudden temperature drop that first day which made us all glad we had brought along jackets.

Spirits were high and laughter was everywhere that first afternoon before the real competition began.

Nerves tightened and everything took on a serious note Saturday morning right before the assembly. It seems this is always when breakdowns occur. I am doing quick repairs on Casey Jones' pin sights.

The University of Missouri (MIZZOU) Archery Team hosted this sanctioned event. Members and staff of the U.S. Collegiate Archery Association handled registration, tabulated scores and served as range masters. A big thanks to all those who give freely of their time for the future of archery. A big thanks is also in order for the 19 schools that offer and support competitive archery as a recognized sport.

The weather on Saturday and Sunday could not have been nicer and the range could not have been prettier. This put everyone in a calmer state of mind which is always a good thing when shooting in high stakes competition.

The fall foliage cast a golden glow on everything as each team worked their way around the 20 target course shooting 3-D animal targets at unknown distances.

Each archer could take one shot at each station. Scores were kept by two score keepers then turned in for the final tally.

Targets varied from station to station. There were lions, alligators, dall sheep, wild turkey, bison, boar, javalina, bear and several whitetail deer. Each had scoring rings with values of 10-8-5-0 plus 1 bonus point for the tiny x in the center.

After the first round of competition on Saturday, the three top scores from each school were selected for the team shoot-off. This was a three arrow shoot down style shoot-off held in an open field before a roaring crowd. My Bethel boys were extremely nervous as their turn to compete approached. The top three scorers selected were Sam Gregory, Blake Welch, and Casey Jones.    

The purple team held it together and out shot other colleges in elimination rounds. In the end there were only two teams left standing and Bethel was overjoyed to claim the runner-up position. We felt extremely pleased to have such a newly organized team from a small-town University place so well in a national championship.

The second day of shooting was structured much like the first except the distances were marked. Tension mounted with each arrow shot.

There were several ladies teams however Bethel has none yet. Archery is a sport that girls often excel in.

The range at Prairie Grove is conveniently laid out with water stations and benches. Members of the gallery of spectators found the benches a restful place to watch the shooters and enjoy the gorgeous fall day.

The realistic settings of each target added to the feeling of an actual hunting situation and that is what 3-D archery is all about.  

When the last arrow is shot and the final scores are added there are always thoughts of how it could have been better and what if's.

It was a joyous team that celebrated all the way back to McKenzie, Tennessee. I offer a huge "Thank You" to every member of the Bethel University BowCats for exhibiting your shooting skills and sportsmanship during this all-important competition. - Coach Valentine


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