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HAMILTON - After a strong showing by recurve men and compound women this morning, compound men and recurve women took to the field in Joyce Park to shoot their first half of qualifications at the 130th U.S. National Target Championships (adult archers) and Easton JOAD Nationals (youth archers).
Environmental conditions - namely, changing lighting and variable winds - made today's game even more interesting. There were smiles up and down the field as seasoned archers, shooting on targets with newcomers, shared archery advice and formed new friendships.
Dillon McGeorge, shooting his first "Outdoor Nationals," finished the day sitting in second for compound cadet men. Slightly overwhelmed by friends at the event, the Georgia teen hopes to perform even better tomorrow. "I felt like I could have done better if I hadn't played around so much with my friends that are here; if I had just focused on the archery I could have done even better than I did today.
"But, definitely I'd say the most exciting part is getting to see the friends you don't get to see every day. I think that's the coolest thing about archery is making friends that live in all different parts of the country."
LaNola Pritchard, a very seasoned young archer shooting in the recurve women's division, seeded herself third for American competitors after 72 arrows: "I had a rough start in the wind, but was able to pull it together to finish strong." Pritchard, who trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center as part of the Resident Athlete Program, focuses on shooting in varied conditions as part of her regular training.
Paralympian Jerry Shields, a Florida-based archer shooting in the compound men's W1 division, echoed Pritchard's thoughts: "I'm really glad I was here to see my friends, but I'm hoping to shoot better tomorrow."
Recurve cadet archer and fellow Floridian Meghan Collins had a powerhouse start to the day and finished on top for the first half of qualifications. Working with one of the biggest distractions that can affect archers - knowing their scores - Collins made sure not to check the rankings all day, and her performance came as a surprise.
"It's awesome," Collins exclaimed at the end of today's round. "I tried so hard and I know I didn't shoot as well as I wanted to, but it was still enough I guess. I love everything about archery, especially getting to see my friends here."
The atmosphere of Outdoor Nationals as a fun and friendly environment was trending as a favorite reason to keep coming back, but others also cited the high level of archery skill at this event.
"I think there's a lot of competition because all the US archers are here and even top archers from other countries are here too," commented Virginie Chenier, a Canada resident who returns to the U.S. every summer to compete. "This year we have [archers from] Chinese Taipei, Colombia, [and] the Philippines and that's great."
Follow scores as competition continues on Friday with the second half of qualifications, which will also determine National Championship titles for the adults. For live scoring across all categories, visit http://ianseo.net/Details.php?toId=753 (Easton JOAD Nationals) and http://ianseo.net/Details.php?toId=752 (U.S. National Target Championships).
For the first time ever, Saturday's U.S. Open and Sunday's Easton JOAD Nationals Elimination Rounds will be live streamed - for free - on USA Archery's YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usaarcherytv. Photos and other event updates can be found on USA Archery's Facebook page and Twitter feed.
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