By Moses Leos III
What began as target archery lessons roughly two years ago has grown into something more for Lehman High student Madison Alexander.
After scoring well during a recent national outdoor archery tournament in Decatur, Ala., Alexander was recommended to be a part of the Regional Dream Team Program, which is a part of USA Archery.
For Jeff Alexander, Madison’s father, witnessing his daughter’s progression in the sport has left him in “awe” of her abilities.
“For me, there is a lot of pride here as a parent,” Jeff said. “You want to see your child succeed. Watching her do this makes me very proud.”
Madison’s path toward archery began when she took up the sport at day camps, Jeff said. Madison said the desire to hunt game initially spurred her on.
But Jeff said Madison’s interest in target archery soon took over, leading him to enroll her in classes at the Archery Training Center in Austin.
During her first class at the ATC, Madison said she first had to take a beginner class, which taught her the ropes of the sport.
“You had to get familiar with formats and whistles and safety stuff, and getting used to equipment,” Madison said. “You also have to make sure your arrows are the proper size.”
Once she completed the beginner class, Madison started taking on targets that were nine meters away.
Over the course of a year, Madison progressed to shooting at 13.5, then 18-meter targets. By progressing to the greater distance, Madison was able to participate in USA Archery and Texas State Archery Association Tournaments.
At competitions, Madison began to see the intensity that came with the sport of competitive archery.
Additional training, along with using upgraded equipment, is necessary once an archer reaches competitive levels, she said.
She also gathered a much greater understanding of the mental side of the sport and the challenge it presents.
Staying calm and focusing on shooting cues essential for archers during competitions, Madison said. The athlete must also ensure they aren’t endangering others while shooting, while also going through mental checklists to make sure they’re using proper form.
While the process from notching the arrow to release takes a couple of seconds, Madison said it “feels like it takes a couple of hours.”
“On the outside, archery seems like a simple sport. But once you see the components, you see the mental game to it,” Madison said.
Madison has increased her outdoor range to shooting targets 60-meters away.
Her ability to shoot in the clutch also garnered her high marks during competitions. During her first national tournament in Decatur, Madison scored a 527, which surpassed a minimum of 500 to be recommended for the RDT.
Jeff said Madison, who practices two to three days per week on her own, at times struggles with scoring well during practices. That changes, he said, when she takes part in tournaments.
“There’s something in me that clicks and suddenly everything starts coming together. I get into a flow,” Madison said. “I watch other shooters … I can get inspiration on what I’m doing wrong.”
Her goal now is to make her way to the RDT, which would place Madison two steps closer to her goal of reaching the Olympic Games.
Within the RDT, Madison would have access to Olympic coaches, who could help her fine tune her skills.
Both Madison and her family set up a go-fund me account to help defray the costs associated with attending the game.
“At RDT, I hope to find further refinement in my form and expand my support network,” she said.
The possibility of attending the 2020 summer Olympics games continues to be a dream for Madison.
“I’m in awe of her ability and what she has to do to go out there day after day and shoot what she shoots,” Jeff said.