Samantha Pruitte is looking forward to some time off from international archery competition.
And even then, the Harlem High School senior will stay busy with an after-school job and homework.
Pruitte returned from Turkey on Oct. 13 after taking a silver medal at the Youth World Archery Championships. The U.S. team that included Pruitte won gold in the team competition.
Pruitte's life has been a whirlwind of travel, practice, work and school. She hopes to cut down on some of it, at least for a while.
"Come mid-November, it's going to pick back up pretty quick," Pruitte said. "I don't get much of a break. But it's better than nothing."
Pruitte qualified third in the individual competition at the Youth World event. Her seeding put her opposite in the bracket to Kendall Nicely, a Maine native who was the top seed. The girls met in the gold medal match, with Nicely coming out on top.
Pruitte and Nicely were familiar competitors, having faced each other often in national competition.
"It was really nice, because it wasn't real competitive," Pruitte said. "We were just both like, 'Either way, the U.S. is going to win and either one of us deserves it.' "
Pruitte will visit Iowa in January to try to qualify for the World Indoor Championships, held in Poland next year. In the meantime, she'll continue to practice at her house, where her father, Jim Pruitte, has set up a 90-meter range in the backyard and a heated indoor shooting area, complete with canopies and lights.
Jim got his start in bow hunting and later competed as a professional archer. He runs Pruitte Archery out of his home and routinely draws about 10 students, most from Columbia County. Jim and his wife, Mechelle, also sponsor the county 4-H archery program.
Samantha doesn't hunt, but she did pick up Jim's competitive spirit. She practices head-to-head with her dad before big competitions, as she did before the Youth World.
"It's getting better," Samantha said. "I've beat him a few times. But he usually does end up getting me -- but not by much anymore."
Samantha plans to attend Georgia College and State University, where the school has an archery club. The program is dormant now, but has funds for Samantha to revive it when she arrives on campus.
"She'll get it going again," her father said.
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