BELFAIR — Therese Gordon of Poulsbo never thought she would have dreams of becoming an Olympian. Not when she first signed up for archery lessons. Not when she traveled to...
BELFAIR — Therese Gordon of Poulsbo never thought she would have dreams of becoming an Olympian.
Not when she first signed up for archery lessons. Not when she traveled to her first out-of-state competition and not when she competed in national tournaments.
Yet, four years into the sport, Gordon has become less of an introvert, began competing in track and field at North Kitsap High School and will compete at the 25th Marked 3-D National Championships May 3-5 in Redding, Calif. And now she has dreams of competing in the Olympics one day.
Sean Gordon, Therese’s father, said he’s amazed at how much his daughter blossomed and credits archery for pushing her to become more extroverted.
Therese said the focus needed to compete in archery gave her confidence to push herself.
“Archery is challenging,” she said. “It’s a lot more mental than other sports as far as I can tell.”
And how did the North Kitsap junior learn about the sport? She can thank the North Kitsap Parks and Recreation Department for that.
Archery was listed as one of its offerings in its class and activity brochure. It was in the class Gordon learned the fundamentals of archery. Bows, arrows and a wrist guard are all provided for beginners and are taught at the recreation center’s indoor range.
It didn’t take long for Gordon to find out she was pretty good at it, and neither did her instructor who encouraged Gordon to get in touch with Kim Petersen at KBH Archers in Belfair to continue her instruction.
Gordon has competed in several recurve bow tournaments spanning the United States including the U.S. National Indoor Championships and the Junior Olympic Archery Development program (JOAD) National Indoor Championships. At the U.S. nationals, Gordon shot 998 out of 1,000 (57th overall in her division) and 464 to finish 78th, in the JOAD nationals. Beside Redding, Gordon, who also competed at the Vegas Shoot, plans on competing at tournaments in Salt Lake City, North Carolina, and California. She also had the opportunity to shoot at local tournaments in northern Japan while on vacation with her family (her mother is Japanese).
Gordon said she wasn’t interested in team sports and liked the idea of individual competition. It’s one reason archery has stuck. The mix of trying to beat her best score as well as her competition is intriguing.
“As long as I can get the center every time, that’s good,” she said. “I’ve definitely shown improvement over the past four years. This year is definitely better.”
Gordon’s top score for a blue-faced target is 289 out of 300 and for a multi-colored target it’s 272 out of 300.
“I think it’s pretty good for a recurve,” she said. “You don’t really have anyone else to compare it to because a lot of the top girls in the state don’t do a blue face.”
Gordon said that’s because the blue target is used by the NFAA, the National Field Archery Association, instead of USAA, the United States Archery Association, which uses the multi-colored (blue, red, yellow) target.
Gordon said she’s looking forward to the Redding shoot, which is NFAA sanctioned and uses 3-D animal targets.
“That’s a lot of fun,” Gordon said, adding the Redding tournament is more geared for compound bows.
Compound bows are distinct from recurve bows as they have two gears on the top and bottom and are used more in bowhunting. Recurve bows are more common and used in freestyle or Olympic events. Redding is one of the few outdoor tournaments Gordon competes in as her indoor season takes place during the fall and winter months.
Archery also gave Gordon the confidence to compete in the javelin for the Vikings’ track and field team, which she has done since her freshman season.
“Archery was definitely a big factor in me doing track because before I used to be really introverted, even more so than (now) and archery helped me become a little more outgoing because I was forced to be in a situation, especially in tournaments, where I have to talk to other people because we’re stuck with each for four or five hours.”
The challenges of the sport are the same as every other sport.
“Some practices you just have a bad day,” she said. “That whole time you’re not doing anything right, at least that’s what it feels like, and you can’t hit the targets to save your life.”
Gordon practices three days a week and shoots more than 100 arrows per session. She recently moved up to Level 4 and is reaching coaching from Julie Bergen, a USA Archery-certified coach with Next Step Archery in Seattle. Petersen of KBH Archers has also been coaching Gordon, along with mentor Tim Davis who helps her with her mental focus in what can be a stressful sport.
Bergen said despite knowing Gordon for a short amount of time, she can see her student is very open to feedback.
“I can see that she really puts forth the effort to make changes and improve,” Bergen said, adding she believes “Therese can go as far as she can imagine.”
Gordon also competes for NK’s archery team, which begins in the fall, and said she would like to continue competing through college.
She is hopeful about qualifying for the 2024 Olympics.
“I want to make it to the Olympics someday,” Gordon said. “Right now I can’t do 2020 because that’s my graduating year and I feel like I’m going to be swamped with stuff to do. And then 2024 is the year I’ll probably graduate college, so it’s kind of iffy.”
But until then, Gordon will keep practicing and competing with the hope of becoming an Olympian.