Madison Stevens, who just turned 15, took up archery only about two years ago, but that lack of experience didn’t stop her from competing in a national championship this year. Madison found a welcome test in field archery, an event known for lots of fun and extra challenges, including uphill and downhill shots in wooded settings.
After deciding that sights and stabilizers weren’t her thing, Madison tried barebow archery, a shooting style that restricts archers to only a bow, arrows and an arrow rest. Relying on just her eyes and instincts for sighting and aiming, Madison clinched the title at the recent U.S. National Field Championships. That championship also secured her spot on the U.S. team for the World Archery Field Championships, which will be held in Zagreb, Croatia, later this year.
Soon after winning the title, Madison answered a few questions for Archery 360.
How long have you been shooting?
I started shooting about two years ago. I’m fortunate that the North Texas Archery Academy offers an off-campus athletics program in a partnership with the Plano Independent School District. That allows me to get more practice while earning P.E. credit at the same time.
How did you get started in archery?
The first time I shot was with my dad on an Indian Princess campout when I was in kindergarten. I never really shot much after that until my 12th birthday, when my best friend gave me a small fiberglass bow as present. I played around with the bow until another friend told me about North Texas Archery Academy. While shooting there, a guy who worked there asked if he could show me the proper way to shoot. He ended up being my coach. Coach Tony asked me to join the Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) team, where I’ve made many friends and developed a love for archery. I started participating in monthly pin shoots and other tournaments.
What made you choose barebow?
There is just something about a wood bow in my hands and the beauty of the craftsmanship. I like keeping the bow to its truest form so I can really feel the whole shot sequence. It just feels more natural to me.
What do you enjoy most about field archery?
Field archery is my favorite because of the challenges of the course. Every shot has a different angle or degree of difficulty. No two shots are the same. Field archery entails more than just shooting. You must be able to endure the weather (Texas heat), and have the stamina and endurance to maneuver the course. One of the best attributes of field archery might be the camaraderie you share with other archers as you walk the course, and the willingness of seasoned archers to teach.
How did you decide to go to the U.S. National Field Championships and try out for the team?
I didn’t really think of it as being a national tournament. I thought of it as another chance to shoot with my friends and many of the archers I met at the previous state tournament. I was just looking forward to the weekend and never really thought of it as a competition. It was just another opportunity to shoot and spend time with friends.
What was your experience like? Would you try it again?
This was my first national tournament. I had the opportunity to shoot with people of all ages and abilities, including archers with World Championship titles and Olympic medals. Hearing their experiences and stories inspired me to try out for the U.S. team that’s going to the World Archery Field Championships. I was excited about the possibility to shoot with my new friends in another country. Who would have thought it would actually happen? I would absolutely do it again without hesitation.
What’s one thing you learned during the tournament and team trials?
Just shoot and have fun, but don’t lose your focus. Since you shoot for several days, you have to learn to take one target, one arrow at a time. If you don’t do well at one target, you can’t let it get you down. You have to start fresh at each target. The day isn’t over until every point is counted and scored.
What are you most looking forward to at the World Championships?
Going to Croatia! This will be my first time out of the country. I look forward to meeting and competing with archers from other countries. I’m also curious about trying new foods. I’m excited about meeting, watching and learning from other archers.
Is there anything specific you will focus on when practicing between now and then?
Staying consistent with my form and learning to judge the various distances. I’m lucky I have a great facility to practice shooting different distances and angles. This is the part of field archery I enjoy the most, and keeps it interesting.
What advice do you have for archery fans who are thinking about trying the sport?
The beautiful thing about archery is its many different styles to choose from. There’s a style to match every personality. You can shoot for the love of archery or take it more seriously. I found the more I accomplished in archery and the more people I met, the more I enjoyed it. With that in mind, I suggest finding a local club or team to join. Just shoot and have fun.