120 arrows. 104 bull’s eyes. Not bad for an 11-year-old, huh?
That was the performance Kasilof’s Abby DiPaolo, a student at Soldotna Montessori Charter School, put on at the Alaska State Indoor Archery Tournament on Jan. 12 and 13.
The tournament is organized by the Alaska State Archery Association. Archers compete at various locations throughout the state, then email the results in.
DiPaolo finished third out of eight contestants in the Cub Female Freestyle division. The Cub division is for archers 11 and under.
On each day, from 10 yards away, Abby shot 60 arrows. Points were awarded for each shot on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with the bull’s eye being a five.
Abby, Sena Lund and Esther Lytle each scored 584 points for the two days.
The tiebreaker is how many X’s are hit in the very middle of the target. Lund had 58, Lytle had 56 and DiPaolo had 55.
Last year in the same competition, Abby had scored 519 points and hit 26 X’s.
She said the biggest difference this year has been a Hoyt bow she got after last year’s competition.
“It’s a lot easier to adjust and it has different features on it,” she said. “It’s really good for kids my size, and they make it for kids. It’s easy to pull back and really fun to shoot.”
DiPaolo has been shooting since she was 7. Her dad, Lenny DiPaolo, got her into the sport.
“My dad would always shoot and I thought it was so cool,” Abby said. “I asked if I could try it and I got really hooked on it.”
The Kenai Peninsula has an active archery community, but Lenny said the Kenai Peninsula Archers Club is an outdoor club. The problem is the DiPaolos spent most of their summer in Seldovia, meaning they can’t be active in the club.
That leaves the winter.
Abby and Lenny try to get to the archery range in the basement of Wilderness Way in Soldotna as much as their schedules allow. Sometimes that is twice a week, sometimes it’s twice a month.
“It’s really great that they let us practice there,” Lenny said.
And when the weather allows, the DiPaolos will even shoot outside in the winter.
“It’s been really good for her,” said Paula DiPaolo, Abby’s mother. “It takes so much concentration, and a lot of breathing and focusing. I think it’s really useful for her in pulling herself together and calming down.”
The DiPaolos must drive to Anchorage to compete in Alaska State Archery Association since there are no official indoor ranges on the Peninsula. The two compete at the Black Sheep Bowmen Archery Club.
Shooting from 20 yards away, twice the distance as Abby, Lenny finished seventh in Adult Male Bowhunter Freestyle. He had days of 292 and 298 for 590.
Lenny said he hopes archery continues to catch on with more kids on the Peninsula. He said some schools have archery programs, and said Abby has friends who like to shoot.
“I just want to keep shooting and see where it takes me,” Abby said. “Sometimes I just shoot for fun, but I really want to keep trying to get better.”
This weekend, Abby and Lenny will travel to Anchorage to compete in the State 3 Spot tournament.