Aiming True: Local 4-H recurve archers compete at nationals

Members of the 4-H shooting sports team, from left, Dalton Booth, 18, Joleen Frost, 15, and Kodie Booth, 15, draw their Olympic-style recurve bows on Tuesday afternoon at the Park County Fairgrounds Rodeo Arena in Livingston. Enterprise photo by Hunter D’Antuono.
Jordan P. Ingram
Enterprise Staff Writer

A long, black stabilizer pole juts downward from Joleen Frost’s Olympic-style recurve bow and rests atop the 15-year-old’s turquoise checkered leather boot. 

Frost, wearing an arm bracer and royal-blue shoulder guard, squints her eye as she locks onto an unseen target. Pulling a thin rod from a quiver, she nocks the arrow, attaching the “nock” located at the end of the long aluminum projectile to a specific hitching point located on the drawstring. 

Frost raises the bow clutching the riser, or centerpiece, which connects two flexible fiber-composite limbs. As she pulls back the polyethylene cord with fingers covered in a protective leather stall, the draw weight increases by the pound, until Frost is holding more than 20 pounds of pressure with one arm without the slightest shake or tremble. 

Frost said the finger tabs are essential to competitive shooting.

“If you were to shoot all weekend without finger tabs, you would have blisters and your fingers would swell up,” Frost said.

She rotates the dial on the sight a few clicks and takes aim, adjusting the angle of the bow for appropriate distance. Just before release, the arrow hits a spring-loaded wire called a clicker, signaling to Frost to let the thin, metal missile fly with a “Thwang.”

And her aim was true.

Frost, and teammates Kodie Booth, 15, and Dalton Booth, 18, of Livingston, and Jacelyn Stewart of Dillon, 15, each packed their bows and skills to Grand Island, Nebraska for the 2017 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships on June 25-30. 

The four-member team, featuring three Park County ambassadors, and under the direction of 4-H certified coach Jason Frost, proudly represented Montana among more than 70 young archers from around the country, taking third place in the 3D team-shooting event with 560 points. The group went on to finish 8th overall out of 16 teams.  

For the individual events, Dalton took third place after hitting 97.5 percent of his 3D targets consisting of large foam replicas of various game animals. 

Dalton, who practices on numerous weapons including a compound bow, shotgun and muzzleloader rifle, went on to place fifth overall among recurve competitors. 

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of this experience,” Dalton said. “I got to meet a lot of new people and learn some new techniques.”

Kodie said she had a similar experience at the Great Plains tournament.

“I got to learn a lot of new things about recurve archery,” Kodie said. “Mostly, how people hold their bow when shooting. It was really cool to see how everybody else does it differently.”

The question posed to the group for next year’s 4-H shooting sports clash is: What’s next? After their lone year of Olympic-style recurve competition, each of the kids must decide to pick up a different skill. It’s come down to compound, shotgun or muzzleloader. Dalton said he is practicing for an upcoming 4-H shotgun qualifier in Kalispell. 

But regardless of their decision, each of them said they are prepared to continue on their 4-H journey as a team.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Frost said.