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Newberry archery championship hosted generations of archers

A competitor from Thunderstruck Archery draws his bow string to his cheek while aiming at a target down range recently. (Valentina Sarmiento/WUFT News)
A competitor from Thunderstruck Archery draws his bow string to his cheek while aiming at a target down range recently. (Valentina Sarmiento/WUFT News)

NEWBERRY -- Hundreds of arrows released from taut, finger-drawn bowstrings pierce the air and find their targets on a recent weekend – as they do on many days.

The archers, ages 6 to 70, shared the same shooting line and aimed for the bull’s eye proving the multigenerational appeal of archery.

The Easton Foundations Archery Centers, which is overseen by The Florida Archery Foundation, is home to many local archery enthusiasts and serves as the venue for major tournaments.

Just last month, more than 70 competitors gathered for the USAA Florida State Outdoor 720 Championship.

Many competitors practice the sport for years before competing in a championship. Jim Brown, a 77-year-old competitor in the compound division, said he has practiced the sport for 46 years.

“I got started in archery in 1977,” Brown said. “I’ve had my moments."

Brown said he won five national championships back to back in his prime. He attributes his success to coming onto the archery scene at the right time.

Brown has practiced other sports in the past but doesn't regret his commitment to archery, he said. The friendships and camaraderie Brown has gained through the sport are invaluable, he said.

“It’s really challenging, and you can’t take it for granted. It’s all about discipline,” Brown said.

Some competitors develop discipline when they are young, while others are still developing. Archer Lynch, a 6-year-old competitor in the compound yeoman division, was given the thematic namesake in hopes he would take up the sport, his father Stephen Lynch said.

Ansley Dickinson, a 12-year-old competitor in the recurve bowmen division, is hoping to improve her tournament performance.

“It’s definitely a mental game,” Dickinson said.

There are a number of factors that can distract or dissuade an archer, Dickinson said. A lot of the challenges in the sport involve not letting things get into one’s head, Dickinson added.

“I’ve been having to aim off a lot,” she said. “It’s not fun, but I’m getting there,” Dickinson said.

Tracey Francis, a 58-year-old competitor in the barebow division, said she was inspired by children to take up the sport.

Francis has practiced the sport for about seven years. She enjoys shooting with her daughter, who still practices archery, Francis said.

Francis said a lot of the obstacles in archery are mental and self-inflicted.

“You’re always trying to get that perfect spot,” Francis said. “When you fall short of that, it’s hard to keep your head straight.”

Archery’s broad appeal and inclusive community prove there’s no age requirement to be pierced by a passion for the sport.

Valentina is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing