UPDATED ON: May 1st, 2015
By Tracy Breen
Like baseball and football, archery is one of those sports where the younger you are when you get started in the sport, the better your chances are of excelling. Some of the best athletes in the world started participating in the sport of their choice when they were a youngster. The same can be said of Kailey Johnston from Georgia. She was just a little girl when she first let an arrow fly. “My dad bought me a bow for my birthday and I started shooting it when I was just eight years old. I wasn’t very serious about it at first, but my dad entered me in a tournament and I did well which got me excited. Over time, I began getting more serious about the sport,” Johnston explained.
Johnston started getting serious about archery when she was twelve years old. “At twelve years old, I was competing in 3D state tournaments and some ASA events. The more I competed and better I became, the more I really enjoy the sport,” Johnston added.
While shooting the Eagles class in ASA, Johnston shot a record. It was at this point she decided to take her archery to the next level. “Setting a record gave me a lot of confidence. From that point on, I started practicing more and working my way up,” Johnston noted.
At the young age of eighteen, Johnston is still on a roll. “I think my greatest accomplishments so far are the ten gold medals I have at home. I compete for the United States World Team and have been able to travel all over as a result. This year, I have already traveled to China and have had a great year here at home,” Johnston said. Saying she is having a great year is an understatement. This year she has won the ASA Classic and IBO World Championships back to back. “She’s a wonderful ambassador for the sport and has been a terrific addition to the Mathews Pro staff,” said Derrek Phillips, Mathews Pro Staff Manager.
Although Johnston has been extremely successful in archery, she has other goals. “I am shooting right now and am going to school to be a nurse. My plan is to do both,” Johnston explained.
Within a few minutes of being on the phone with Johnston, I could tell she is a person who is always happy. She says that is part of her key to success. “I always try to have a positive attitude which I think has helped me when competing. A poor attitude affects your shooting. We all have bad days shooting but with a positive attitude, eventually you get over it and shoot better,” Johnston suggested.
At eighteen years old, Johnston does a wonderful job of dealing with the pressure associated with shooting in front of thousands of people. She says her dad has helped her deal with the pressure. “I try to shoot my bow daily. When I am practicing, my dad and I use simulating pressure situations. He will stand off to the side and say, ‘So-and-so is ahead by seventy points. You need to do this or that.’ Simulating those situations really helps me prepare for the tournaments.”
Johnston credits much of her success to hard work and the help of her father, Terry Johnston. “My dad has always encouraged me and pushed me to stick with it. It has paid off.” Johnston said.
Kailey: we hope you have as much success at nursing school as you have had shooting archery.