Archers Alabama-bound for USAA Collegiate 3D Nationals
Liberty University third-year archery Head Coach Ben Summers will travel with 19 of his archers to Foley, Ala., on Wednesday and Thursday to compete in Friday’s and Saturday’s USA Archery Collegiate 3D National Championships at the Graham Creek Interpretive Center.
“We’re really excited to be back,” Summers said, noting that it will be the largest collegiate event USA Archery has held to date with 350-400 shooters from 25-30 colleges and universities. “We have almost a full team for the first team ever, so this particular tournament is exciting because we will have so many opportunities in a head-to-head competition as a team.”
Summers knows the outdoor 3D format will be new to many of his archers as they aim to qualify for the finals in Friday’s and Saturday’s individual competition. Archers will shoot at a total of 40 targets set up at different distances, anywhere from 20 to 50 yards.
“When you go down to Foley, it’s completely different than what a lot of the shooters have been doing in high school,” he said. “For a lot of these people this will be their first collegiate tournament and first tournament shooting at life-sized 3D animal targets, instead of at round circle targets.”
Besides the individual events that all team members will shoot in, Summers plans to enter three-archer teams in Saturday’s men’s and women’s bowhunting, men’s and women’s compound, and women’s barebow categories. Additionally, the Flames and Lady Flames will combine to form mixed teams in all four disciplines before arranging men’s and women’s mixed equipment teams for Saturday night’s indoor event at the awards banquet, with one compound, one bowhunter, one barebow, and one recurve shooter competing.
“That is an unusual event, with everyone cheering at the top of their lungs for their teams,” Summers said. “It’s so loud. I’ve never seen an archery event that’s extremely loud as normally you try to keep quiet while others are shooting.”
This year’s team has more leadership in place than in any previous season with graduate seminary student Louis Boyd and senior Blakeley Logsdon serving as men’s and women’s team captains and sophomores Natasha Leininger and Joel Barkley the designated spiritual leaders.
“It’s great when you have good spiritual leadership and when one of your captains is in seminary,” Summers said. “It’s kind of a win-win situation. The captains are helping people fit in and understand what kind of tournament we’re headed to and helping me as a coach to relate everything to them.”
Two of the freshmen, Jadalynn Cook and Austin Harrell, come from Archery Shooters Association semipro backgrounds and are sponsored by Mathews Archery bow manufacturers.
“I’m really happy about all of the freshmen that we have joining the team,” Logsdon said. “We’ve almost doubled this semester, so from that we’ve grown in size but also our quality of shooting has gotten better. From that we’ve grown in size, but also our quality of shooting has gotten better.
“As more people come on, we’re able to build our camaraderie and really work with each other,” she added, noting this weekend’s nationals will be the first chance to demonstrate that. “We’re all getting prepared and excited … to represent the university, represent the team, and represent God.”
Summers likes the spiritual climate and team culture that is being developed from within.
“We’ve been practicing together and I’ve been trying to stress that people need to learn each other’s forms, learn their strengths and how to encourage each other and build each other up,” he said. “We have a lot of new young shooters who are really meshing well together. It is awesome to see them grow as friends.”
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video edited by Kylee Ligle/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant