At only 12 years old, Kasilof’s Abby DiPaolo has already compiled an impressive resume in the sport of archery.
Competing at the Alaska State Indoor Archery Tournament in late January and the Northwest Sectionals in early March, DiPaolo hit the bull’s-eye in both and brought home the gold in her division.
At the state tournament, DiPaolo scored 549 points out of a possible 600 over the course of two days, getting 276 the first day and 273 the second.
Points are tallied using a 5-4-3-2-1 system, with a perfect bull’s-eye shot gathering five points, and the outermost ring netting just one point, and DiPaolo’s scores were good enough to win.
“It’s definitely my best performance,” DiPaolo said. “Seeing the medals you get when you win, it makes me try harder.”
It only got better for DiPaolo at the Northwest Sectionals. The competition includes archers from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and she took the top prize among all others in the freestyle division. DiPaolo scored 274 and 283 over two days to total 557, her career best.
On the second day, DiPaolo hit the bull’s-eye on 43 out of the 60 targets using her Hoyt Ruckus bow. It gave her the title in the freestyle division, which is considered the upper echelon of the tournament hierarchy. She had to beat out five other girls — most from Outside states — to win.
“I had a bunch of classes where I practiced a lot more,” she said.
Last year, DiPaolo finished third out of eight contestants in the Cub Female Freestyle division, which is for archers 11 and under.
This year, she made the big step up to the Youth division, which is contested by archers ages 12 to 14, and also sees the targets pushed out to twice the distance — from 10 yards to 20 yards.
“It’s a big difference because the target gets a lot smaller,” DiPaolo said. “When you’re at 10 yards you can see, but you can barely see the target at 20 yards.”
DiPaolo said she recorded a single-day score of 292 from 10 yards out in 2013, but when the distance of the target is taken into consideration, the 283 she managed from 20 yards in the Northwest Sectionals was more impressive to her. Add in the fact that she was among the youngest in her age group, it made for a pretty impressive moment.
“It’s pretty cool to beat the older girls,” she said. “I think it’s a lot better. Last year was too easy for me with 10 yards. Twenty yards is a better challenge.”
Practice makes perfect. That’s the philosophy that Abby and her father, Lenny, adopted over the last year. The family made use of the shooting range at Wilderness Way in Soldotna to practice as much as possible, and even had a place at home to hone their skills.
“She could take it as far as she wants,” Lenny said about his daughter’s success. “Right now we’re just having fun with it.”
Because of the nature of the competition, in which contestants send in their two-day results from different locations around the state, it is not immediately clear who won and where everyone else placed.
The results from the state tournament took over two weeks to show up, according to Lenny DiPaolo. But when they finally did come through, the reaction was instant excitement.
“I thought it was really cool because I didn’t actually think I was going to place first,” Abby said. “It took so long to come in, and I came home one day and my dad told me I won, and I was like, really?”
Abby, who put in her performance at Black Sheep Archery Club in Anchorage, wasn’t the only DiPaolo to score high. Lenny competed in the adult bowhunter freestyle division and took sixth place out of 17 others in the state tournament, and was 12th out of 26 at the Northwest Sectionals.
It must run in the family.
“I guess the practice paid off for both of us,” Lenny said. “As far as concentration and shooting a good score, it all came together for her. The big part of it is nerves, and competing against herself.”