On July 10-14, the Archery Learning Center Hornets archery team, form Snellville, competed in the Easton Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) Nationals in Hamilton, Ohio. After 12 long weeks of preparation and more than 130,000 practice arrows fired, the team was ready. Eighteen kids from the Hornets competed and brought home 13 medals and two “Grand National Champion” podium finishes.
The ALC Hornets fielded kids in the Cub Male Compound, Cadet Female Compound, Cadet Male Compound, Bowman Male Compound, Cub Male Recurve, Bowman Male Recurve, Cadet Male Recurve and Cadet Female Recurve classes. Many of these kids were competing in a large-scale national event for the first time.
Early in the qualification rounds, the Cub Compound Men started to make some noise out on the field. The competition was extremely well-matched, and the shooting was extremely accurate. The kids in this division are from 12 to 14 years old, and they shot 144 arrows at a distance of 30 meters. The 10 ring is about the size of a small Dixie cup.
The wind was rough, but these young kids shot some amazing scores. Their groups were typically tight enough to wrap you thumb and forefinger around. ALC Hornets Andrew Mouchabeck took the bronze, and Matthew Weinstein and Evan Clark took fourth and fifth place, respectively, in qualifications. Andrew’s twin brother Nick Mouchabeck took eighth place. Evan Clark brought home the bronze in the Cub Compound Team event and won the bronze in the individual finals to bring his medal count up to two for the weekend.
Danny McEntire was the only Bowman Compound that the Hornets fielded, and he brought home the gold in the Team Event. Caleb “Schmooie” Walton shot great in the Recurve Bowman Division and finished eleventh. The Hornets had two Recurve Cub Men, and they were competing in their first national outdoor event. Alex Gilliam and Jacob Rodrigue both finished in the top 20.
The Cadet Compound Men was equally as tight. ALC Hornet Jonathan Clark jumped out to an early lead and maintained a strong margin from second for most of the game. Will Raper, currently ranked No. 7 in the country, finished sixth in qualification. Gavin Huff and Jake Watford both finished in the top 25. Jonathan won the bronze in the individual matches, gold in the team event, and bronze in the individual qualifications. Will Raper took the silver in the team event.
The Recurve Cadet Division is one of the most hotly contested divisions at nationals. It is also the field that most of the newest Olympic champions are drawn from. Over the next four years, these kids will be prepping to enter the tournament of their lives. Their scores show it as well. Cameron Pyles, Jack Argo and Anthony Dukes took the field in the most challenging conditions of the day. It was tough going, but despite the conditions, all three did very well.
Cameron finished 19th in qualifications while Anthony and Jack just missed the cut to participate in the finals. While finishing 19th in such a talented field is a fantastic feat for an archer who has been shooting for only a year and a half, Cameron knew he could have done better if the conditions had been normal. The finals was Cameron’s day to shine. The weather was a little hotter, but the wind was a little more calm. He knew he had a rough road ahead if he was going to work his way back up from 19th and win.
Cameron is a tough kid, and it was easy to see he had his mind set. One by one in the matches Cameron aced his opponents, taking several matches 6-0. After more than 90 arrows of competition, Cameron found himself in the gold-medal match against the rising USA Junior Dream Team star Andrew Matteo, who qualified first place in the qualifications. Cameron jumped out to an early 5-3 lead, but Andrew closed the gap to tie it up 5-5.
Andrew’s JDT teammates were there supporting him, and Cameron had the whole Hornet JOAD team there. The crowd was screaming their faces off as the archers took the field for a single-arrow, sudden-death shoot-off. The distance was 60 meters, and the 10 ring is the size of a large coffee cup. Cameron drew first, released and the crowd paused in anticipation as the arrow crossed the distance.
The crowed exhaled a huge blast of cheers. Andrew readied himself, drew and released.
The crowd was wild with noise as the judges crossed the field with calipers in hand to measure and make a determination as to who was closest to center.
In the end, Andrew was the closest and took the gold. Cameron won silver in his amazing race to the top of the field. For him, this was his first taste of the Olympic dream that has been his goal for the last year and a half. It was a real treat to be able to watch a kid get so close and experience what it will feel like four years from now when he starts the process of making the USA Olympic team.
The Hornets had two Cadet Women competing. Bethany Bogan, with her recurve, was shooting her first major event and had a stellar performance. She didn’t make it through her first match of eliminations on finals day, but she was extremely happy with her first showing and came away from the experience with a good feel for what she needed to do for next year.
Hannah Harding, shooting a compound, shot fantastic in the qualifications and finished 11th. In the finals, she made it though to the quarter finals and lost by a slim margin. Hannah won the gold medal in the Team Event, so her first outdoor national event was a huge success.
The tournament was spread throughout five days of competition with extremely warm temperatures and some of the most challenging wind conditions the Hornets have encountered all season. There were two full days of qualifications, a blind-draw team event and a full day of finals matches.
The Archery Learning Center is a bustling little archery pro shop in Snellville that lays claim to some serious archery accolades for their short time as a team. The team is a talented group of 25 young archers ranging from 11 to 18 years old. The ALC is located at the corner of McGee Road and Hwy 78. They have a full pro shop and make custom string sets, sell and repair bows and tune hunting bows for perfect broadhead flight all summer long.
But the non-hunting months are filled with target archery. ALC has one of the winningest archery teams in the state, and its Hornets team holds 15 national titles spanning outdoor, indoor and 3D.
Whether it’s getting your hunting bow ready for the season or helping your kids achieve their Olympic dreams, come on down to ALC and join the family.