Home on the range: Student learns patience, gains stamina through archery

Ready. Aim. Fire. Freshman Sophia Bradley started shooting a recurve bow when she was in third grade through 4-H shooting sports. By participating in USA archery, 4-H archery, and ASA archery she has been able to enjoy much success over the years.

“I was first drawn to archery because I was fascinated with action movies,” Sophia said. “I watched the Hunger Games and movies with Hawkeye in them and thought I would enjoy shooting a bow.”

After shooting for seven years, Sophia has become an integral part of the Brazos 4-H Archery Club where her coaches look to her to help lead the group.

“As one of the older members of our 4-H group, Sophia has become a leader in the organization and is always willing to help younger kids with their shooting,” archery coach Rebecca Dominy said. “After shooting for seven years, she has learned many of the intricacies of shooting and how to adjust their equipment.”

Accuracy and precision in archery takes practice and endurance which Sophia has continued to show.

“Sophia is an excellent archer and has shown determination through the years,” Dominy said. “She pushes herself to get better each time she’s at the line and is good about taking constructive criticism to improve.”

Though Sophia enjoys shooting any time, she also acknowledges that archery creates some challenges. 

“Practicing is the most difficult part of archery,” Sophia said. “It’s difficult because I have to do it frequently to keep my muscle memory strong and prepare for each match.”

Although archery focuses on the accuracy of shooting arrows at a target, it has provided Sophia with countless other opportunities to help her grow as an individual. 

“Archery led me to meet new people and be open to try new things,” Sophia said. “It also helps me focus on things outside of archery because I have to deal with distractions when I shoot.”

Each year the 4-H Texas shooting sports department puts on tournaments consisting of five events: wand, clout, modified 600, field, and 3D in the middle of July under the hot sun in San Antonio.

“I enjoy the outdoor state games the most because there’s a lot of people there and every year I get to go back and see people I met before,” Sophia said. “It’s nice to catch up with them after another year, and the events are fun.”

Each event provides its own challenges, but Sophia, like most shooters has her favorite.  

“I enjoy shooting 3D the most,” Sophia said. “The distances and set-up are always different which makes it more challenging than some of the other events.”

Throughout the years, Sophia has enjoyed much success on the range.

“The summer after 5th grade, I earned high overall at the state games,” Sophia said. “I got first place in four events and second place in one event. I won first in two events again this summer.”

With success and talent comes recognition and opportunities to continue pursuing archery at a post- secondary level.  

“The A&M archery coach started showing interest in me when I started shooting in third grade,” Sophia said. “He gave me the bow I use and has helped give me pointers along the way so I would like to shoot for him one day.”