Paige Casey lifts her bow high before slowly lowering it, her eye trained on the target ahead.
Then, the silence is quickly broken by a loud thwack as the arrow hits its mark. It’s during moments like these when the 16-year-old from Fairport must concentrate with every breath.
“You ignore everything around you and keep your arm steady,” she explains.
Since the age of 12, she has been one of the growing number of area youth to participate in competitive archery. She took up the hobby after it was passed down to her from her father Kevin.
He first started shooting when he was a boy scout, and later took up bow hunting as a hobby before joining an archery league.
The Casey family’s backyard is scattered with standing targets, including a foam turkey, deer, bear, and even a woodchuck. They shoot regularly at Traditions Archery in Henrietta and Genesee Conservation League in Rochester.
But no matter the venue, they can speak to the sport’s appeal.
“There’s just something about the flight of the arrow that intrigued me,” explained Kevin.
Archery has been getting more exposure lately with the Olympic games in London (although they use recurve style bows that differ from Paige’s compound style bow).
Other media have also helped bring the bow and arrow into the spotlight.
Jennifer Baker and her husband Tom own and operate Traditions Archery. She says movies like “The Hunger Games” and Pixar’s “Brave” have helped give business a boost.
“From target archery to hunting, it spurred a lot of interest, especially with our recurve sales,” said Baker.
With brave “Hunger Games” heroine Katniss Everdeen using her bow to shoot and kill in the deadly arena, fans of the series — especially girls and younger kids — have come out to try archery themselves. They, however, won’t be shooting moving targets just yet.
There are 40 kids already enrolled in a kids’ league at Traditions, and that number continues to grow.
Paige, who is also in a youth league at Traditions, helps teach youngsters proper technique. One of her favorite parts is that this sort of camaraderie makes the archery community in Rochester grow stronger.
Later this month, Paige will head to Seven Springs, Pa. to compete in the International Bowhunting Organization World Championship to compete for the second year in a row. She placed first in the regional competition in June.
Her goal is to place in the top 10 in her division, for ages 14-17.
While this might seem like a lot of pressure, she’s used to it. In fact, she says archery itself has helped her not just at the firing line, but in life.
Page 2 of 2 - “It helps me concentrate and focus on the little things,” she said.