Local archer heads to global
|For most 8-year-old girls, a birthday
means new dolls, pretty dresses and anything else their little
For April Witt’s eighth birthday,
however, she got a bow and arrow set.
What began as a
loving gift from father to daughter seven years ago has
evolved into a window of opportunity for Witt, who will be one
of only a handful of American archers competing against the
best archers in the world in the Global Games this March in
Now 15 years old, Witt is ranked in the top
three in her age group in the United States, although in
archery circles she is the consensus No. 1 archer in the
Doug Witt likes to hunt. He always has. In
fact, the entire Witt family likes to hunt.
seemed natural that when his oldest daughter, April, had her
eighth birthday she should get a bow and arrow set. The first
results with the new bow hardly gave Doug any indication of
where his daughter would be at this point in her
“It’s night and day talking about how she was
shooting and how she is now,” Doug said. “When she first got
her bow she could barely hit a thing. The dedication she has
put into it since that day though is just
April admits she wasn’t too hot on the idea
of shooting a bow either, but after a short time she warmed up
“I was bad at first,” April said. “But the more
practice time I got, the more encouraged I got. Pretty soon, I
started going to tournaments.”
Her first competitions
came in the form of 3-D tournaments, which occur outdoors in
the woods and consist of archers shooting at three-dimensional
targets such as deer.
Once April began to show an
affinity for the tournaments, Doug decided to make her a deal:
train seriously and win a 3-D tournament and April could get a
big-time compound bow, the elite type of bow.
came through on her end of the bargain and her father came
through on his, and the rest, as they say, is
April competed in local tournaments for
several years while training with her father, as well as her
coach, Mike Koistinen.
After picking up steam, and a
lot of confidence, in the local tournaments, April took the
leap to national competitions three years ago. Her first
national tournament, in Georgia, was an admitted eye opener,
but she still finished a very respectable eighth.
to be discouraged, April traveled to Michigan a month later
for the National Target Championships, and moved all the way
up to third nationally in her age group.
Doug Witt said
his daughter obviously has a natural talent, but that’s hardly
the reason for her success.
“It’s all about the hard
work and dedication she’s put into it,” he said. “Archery is a
lot like golf in that if you put enough dedication into it you
can become good at it. Factor in her hard work and her natural
ability and that’s why she’s where she’s at
April’s crowning moment to this point as an
archer came Jan. 3-5 in Harrisburg, Va., at the World Indoor
Archery Team trials. It was there where April, competing in
the junior compound division, wowed the crowd with a
second-place performance, earning her a spot on the U.S.
Archery team competing in Paris this March.
excited,” April said. “I’ll be going against the best archers
in the world. It’s the largest archery competition in the
Doesn’t that make April nervous?
really thought about it too much, but it’s really coming to a
reality right now,” she said with a laugh. “I’m sure when I
get there I’ll be a little nervous, but it’s going to be the
same targets, at the same distances, so I just have to go out
and do my thing.”
For every Yin in life, there must be a
Yang, and in the Witt household, April’s mother, Julie, serves
as the counterbalance.
Julie not only serves as April’s
mother and confidant, she also has been April’s teacher for a
good portion of her life — at home. April attended Millennium
High School last year as a freshman, but now attends school at
home through an online institution.
At the tournaments,
Julie serves as the quiet inspiration, although the matriarch
admits she’s hardly calm when her daughter
“I’m so nervous,” Julie
said. “She really looks to her dad as the coach, so my job is
to sit there and be quiet. I get so nervous when it gets to
the end though, especially when it gets down to a point or
Both of April’s parents say they can’t believe
how dedicated and responsible their daughter is in every
aspect of life, not just archery.
Then again, Julie
said, that was the deal.
“We told her upfront we would
support her as long as she puts in the time and effort. She’s
done that from day one. We really haven’t had to push her,”
April gives her parents equal credit. The
young archer said her parents’ unflinching support, such as
allowing her to be home schooled, has made her the archer she
“I like going to school at home a lot. I
don’t have to get up and got to some class right away. I can
shoot in the mornings now,” April said. “It’s just given me a
lot more time to train and practice.”
Now the Witt
clan is preparing for a European vacation, of sorts, and Ma
and Pa Witt said they can’t wait to sit in the Parisian stands
as proud parents.
“I’m so proud,” Julie said. “She’s
learned what she needs to do to be successful and she’s run
with it. The thing I’m most happy about is how she handles
herself. She’s just so humble and calm.”
proud papa, agreed. “I can’t say enough about the girl,” he
said. “Even at her times of greatest disappointment she’s
handled herself with class. She doesn’t live and die with this
sport. It just makes me proud beyond belief.”
Traphagan can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
|© 2003 West Valley
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