By Nancy Dashwood
DASSEL, MN Hannah Putnam, 12, of Dassel, placed third in Minnesota State Archery Association (MSAA) competition, which took place April 7 and 8 in Thief River Falls.
Hannah, who will start seventh grade at Dassel-Cokato Middle School (DCMS) this fall, said her fascination with archery started very early in her life.
“I first became interested in archery when I was 4,” Hannah said. “My dad told me that someday I could go hunting with him. I didn’t like the sound of the gun.”
Hannah’s parents, Jeff and Kim Putnam, fostered a more quiet alternative for their daughter.
“We started to watch archery videos,” Hannah said, “and I said to my dad that I would like to do that. So, first, he bought me a kids bow, but it was more like a toy, and broke almost right away.”
The time for toy bows was past.
Hooked on the real thing
Hannah reported that her dad soon took her to Minnesota Archery in Litchfield, where she was allowed to practice with authentic archery equipment.
It’s a good memory for Hannah. “This is when I got my first X and I was hooked,” she said. “After that, my dad bought me my first real compound bow, and I did some shooting just for fun.”
A competitor is born
Hannah began shooting competitively at around the age of 10. She makes her shooting methodology sound simple.
“To shoot a bow, you have to put the arrow in the rest and you pull it back,” she said. “I think how long to hold the string back. I feel nervous that I won’t get a X.”
Hannah indicated there is no magic formula for success; rather, that it takes a lot of hard work.
“I became accurate by practicing,” she said.
Hannah became a member of The Little Crow Archery Club of Hutchinson at the age of 10, and she distinctly remembers her first tournament.
“I was really excited because me and my dad didn’t think that I would win, but I got third place, which I was super happy about,” she said.
Hannah and her friend, Naomi Johnson often shoot and compete together. Naomi is the daughter of Dennis and Kari Johnson of Dassel.
At the state competition this year, the two young women stood side-by-side, each sizing up their targets.
Hannah and Naomi shoot what is called 300 Round.
In 300 round competition, archers shoot at a 5-spot target, because their accuracy when using a single spot target puts them at risk of having arrows bounce off one another or become damaged due to collision. The 5-spot target has a smaller margin for error.
The MSAA 300 Round Tournament isn’t an easy spot to reach.
Before getting to attend, the participant must first shoot a qualifying score in their chosen division and class at a regional qualifying round.
The MSAA organization’s website spells out the specific rules of play.
Participants can choose to shoot the single or 5-spot target. Additionally, during a round, a participant will shoot 70 arrows total: 10 for warm- up, and 60 for score. Arrows are shot in groups of five, called “ends.” A perfect score is 300 with 60 Xs.
Hannah said she had a fun, but bittersweet time taking third at the state competition.
“I was happy about getting third at state and first in league,” she said, “but also sad, because my friend (Naomi) and I were shooting together, and she was only half a point behind me in league.”
Encouraging other young archers
Hannah said the sport of archery is not a big deal for most young people. Yet.
“Archery isn’t a super popular sport for kids,” she said. “But, I think they should try it, because it’s a lot of fun.”
“I can do it with friends and people I know, and I also get to meet new people. I also get to go to different locations in the state for competition,” she said.
Hannah said one of the things that appeals to her about archery is the fact that it can be a life-long endeavor.
“I don’t think age really matters,” Hannah said. “I think I’ll feel the same during competitions when I’m older as I do now.”
In the off-season, Hannah practices at Little Crow Archery or in her family’s garage.
She has gone deer and turkey hunting (as she wished for so long ago), but hasn’t yet dropped any game. That doesn’t worry her one bit. Hannah has other plans.
“My goal is to take first in both league and state,” she said. “But it will be tougher because I will be shooting at 20 yards instead of 10.”
This year Hannah was in the Cub Female Bow Hunter Free Style (CFBHFS) bracket. Next year, she will complete in the Youth bracket.
According to the rules on the MSAA website, the distances that participants shoot at are 20 yards for adults, young adults (ages 15 to 17), and youth (ages 12 to 14); and 10 yards for cubs (ages 8 to 11) and junior cubs (ages 7 and under.)
Hannah hopes to encourage others to try archery, and already knows she’ll be a lifer in the sport.
“It is really fun, and you should try it,” she said, “I like the fact that it’s something that I can keep doing for many years.”
The 2019 State Indoor Tournament will take place April 6 and 7, in Redwood Falls.
For more information on the Minnesota State Archery Association, visit http://mnarchery.org/index.html.