International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate women of all kinds. Women of archery span all generations. Some are taught by their parents at an early age, others learn as an adult.
The intensity of concentration in their eyes seconds before they let the arrow fly, however, is universal. Their satisfaction and sense of accomplishment from hitting their target makes the hours of practice worth the effort.
The sport of archery is prevalent in Sweetwater County and so are the women of archery. Finley Egbert, Amy Walker, Chris Sheely and Tyrell Emery are four such females who practice archery in Rock Springs.
Just Like Brave
At five years of age, Finley Egbert is the youngest and freshest to the sport of these four females.
Local archer Cole Egbert recently started bringing his daughter Finley to the range with him to learn. A few weeks into archery and she’s hitting balloons on her target. She gets excited when she pops a balloon.
“I’m like Brave,” Finley said after her arrow hit the target. “I’m really good. I love it.”
“It’s something for her and I to do together. Her mom dances with her all the time, and we get to bow shoot,” Egbert said. “I was shooting at her age.”
Finley yells, “Clear” before she retrieves her arrows from the target, a common practice at the range.
“I think it’s good for her. It gives her something to focus on and it gets us out of the house on a Thursday night,” Egbert said.
“I’m like Brave!”
~ Finley Egbert
Remebering Her Dad, Making New Memories
The sport of archery is something very close to Amy Walker’s heart. She is an avid bow hunter. She learned archery from her dad 20 years ago. She teaches her son just as her father taught her.
“My dad’s not around anymore, so I want to be there for my son,” Walker says with teary eyes. “And I wish my dad was there with us but he’s not, so when my son looks at me and says ‘Mom!’ I remember that same feeling I had with my dad.”
Walker’s son is 13. He’s been shooting since he was two, she said.
“We take a week, week and a half every year to go archery hunt. We archery hunt elk and deer every year,” Walker said.
Hunting with her son, running around in the woods trying to get the elk as close as they can, is what she loves. Her proudest accomplishment as a bow hunter is the look of accomplishment in her son’s eyes, looking back at her.
“When you’re sitting there and it’s just your son calling the elk,” she said. “And when a bull just bugles right back at him and he looks right back at you like, ‘Oh, mom!’ That’s probably my proudest accomplishment.”
“I remember that same feeling I had with my dad.”
~ Amy Walker
Competition Is The Name of The Game
“You gotta take a big, deap breath before you shoot or else it’s not going to go where you want it to,” Sheely says.
With 35 years of archery experience under her belt, Chris Sheely is the veteran of this group of archery women.
She’s traveled the region participating in archery competitions throughout her years in archery and has a multitude of medals and first-place finishes to her name. Aside from competition archery, she is a bow hunter as well.
“I’m very competitive,” she says.
“All of us are very competitive, and that’s why we stick with it. We’re competitive at hunting, we’re competitive in leagues, and it’s just fun to shoot.”
Even with the various competitions she’s participated in, her proudest moments in archery are still her first and last deer she shot with her bow.
“Because I was by myself,” she said. “I had arrows that were cut down from guys’ arrows, so they probably weren’t the right size for my bow, and I was by myself, and I shot it and gutted it and cleaned it.”
She was a mess, but her solo kill put a proud smile on her face. With mud and blood on her pants, she trudged in search of the truck. Her husband found her on the way.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Going to get the truck,” she said.
“And then he seen the blood on my pants and knew I’d done something,” Sheely said.
“I’m very competitive,”
~ Chris Sheely
Heavy Bow, Strong Woman
“I didn’t start until I was in my twenty’s,” Tyrell Emery said. “My husband’s the one who taught me everything on the bow. I didn’t know anything about it.”
She’s also a bow hunter with six years of experience, with two deer and one antelope under her belt.
“I was really happy when I killed my first antelope with my father-in-law. We were sitting blind waiting for it to come in, and it came in about 50 yards,” she said. “I got excited. I missed the first shot. I missed the second shot. I got it the third shot.”
In order to bow hunt large game, one must pull 50 pounds of weight. 50 pounds is hunting weight for deer and elk.
“I love how it exercises your arms and upper body strength,” Emery said. “You don’t realize how much upper body strength it takes to pull those back. That alone is a challenge just to get to hunting weight.”
“Most people I run into think it’s pretty cool,”
~ Tyrell Emery
Women of Archery
“There’s getting to be more and more women, and it’s actually really nice because when I started archery there wasn’t very many. For years, it’s been Chris and I,” Walker said. “So it is really nice when you walk in the door and see 10 or 15 women in here actually shooting.”
“It’s really nice to pack up the kids and being able to go out and shoot with other females,” Emery said. “It’s a major stress reliever.”
“It’s a family sport,” Sheely said.
“We’ve seen kids come down so scared that they don’t want to shoot and by the end of the night, they’re popping balloons,” Walker said. “It’s the future of the sport, whether it’s boys or girls.”