Most of Samantha Pruitte's friends play "normal" sports like baseball, basketball, football or soccer.
The Athlete Spotlight is on Samantha Pruitte.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
However, at an early age Pruitte found another sport that enticed her.
When she was 6 years old, Pruitte watched her dad shoot his bow and thought it might be a fun sport to try.
By 7, she was competing in tournaments around the state, as the only area youth in competitive archery.
Last month, Pruitte won her division in the youth compound bow event at the National Field Archers Association's Outdoor Championships in Watkins Glenn, N.Y.
"She has come a long way," said her father Jim, also a competitive archer. "We are very proud of her."
Pruitte competes in about 15 tournaments a year, traveling to cities like Las Vegas, Louisville and New York.
Although she doesn't hunt deer, Pruitte has been hunting championships.
Last month's national title was just a piece of the genesis of her career.
She has come a long way, but Pruitte wants to go even farther.
"I'm very proud of my accomplishments," said the 13-year-old, an eighth-grader at Harlem Middle. "But I want to continue shooting through college and I have other goals."
One of those goals is to make the U.S. National Archery Team, which she is eligible for at 15, and to find one of the few colleges that offer women's archery as a varsity sport.
"Being on the national team is a very important thing," she said.
The Olympics are also a goal - sort of.
The Olympics do not have a compound bow event, so she would have to excel with a recurve bow. Recurve bows don't have the pulleys and cables that make the compound bows easier to pull back.
She currently practices with a recurve "off-and-on" at the 90-meter shooting range built by her dad.
As for now, Pruitte will focus on school because the meat of archery season runs from January to August.
"I'm ready to settle back into school, but I'll be ready for the season to really start up next winter," she said. "When the tournament season begins, I get to miss school and that is good."
When she does head back to school this year, Pruitte gets the chance to hang out with her friends who dismiss archery as a simple sport.
"They think that you just pull back on a string and let go," she said. "If it were only that easy."
She practices up to seven days a week and that helps her to make the sport look easy.
"To excel you have to put a lot of time into the sport," her father said. "To do that and be a straight 'A' student is remarkable."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.