CORBIN — By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
Jeremy Elliott nocks an arrow and pulls the string back. His eyes focus and he holds his stance as he aims. He takes his time finding his spot. The whistle and snap of the string is followed quickly by a dull thud as the arrow hits the target, which appears very small in the distance. This is part of Elliott’s routine as he trains for an upcoming archery tournament in Laurel County.
The Archery Shooters Association Pro/Am 3D Archery Tournament will be held beginning Friday at the Laurel County Fairgrounds, and will feature more than 2,000 competitors from across the United States competing for a total of $80,000 in prize money.
Elliott, 16, is a Corbin native and attends Corbin High School. Elliott has competed in the Scholastic 3D Archery National Tournament in the past, but will move on to the Archery Shooters Association Pro/Am 3D Archery Tournament this year. Elliott said he was competing in the pro/am tournament because there was “better competition.”
Elliott has been shooting for the past six years and has competed successfully for scholarships and other awards across the country. He said he enjoys meeting new friends and being able to shoot archery.
“I hope to do good [in this competition],” Elliott said.
Elliott wants to shoot professionally, and said that in order to reach that level many people have to practice daily with as much intensity as someone might practice football or basketball. Elliott said archery requires a lot of physical and mental discipline.
“A lot of winning is mental,” he said.
He also said archery helps him hunt game by improving his aim.
Another competitor is Jay McClure, 51, a UPS driver from London, who will compete in the amateur division. McClure, who has been shooting since he was 15 and has been shooting competitively for the past six years, said he normally makes the top 25 in his class.
“I like it because it’s competitive; it’s an extension of bow hunting,” McClure said. He added he liked the camaraderie of the competitions and meeting new people from around the United States.
“It [archery] takes a lot of time to master, and it takes the entire body,” McClure said.
The targets used in the competition are life-sized 3D models of commonly hunted animals, although the targets in this weekend’s competition will feature more than just replicas of the native fauna; London-Laurel County Tourism Co-Director Rodney Hendrickson said moose and antelope would also be featured targets.
The $80,000 purse will be split among winners of the different divisions, but Hendrickson said the winner of the professional division will take home more than $30,000.
According to Hendrickson, last year the tournament broke the record for the largest archery tournament in the world, and he added he expected even more competitors this year. Hendrickson said last year the tournament filled hotels from Jellico, Tenn., to Berea and this year the hotels in London have been booked for months.
“In terms of filling hotels and restaurants, this is the biggest tourism event in Laurel County,” Hendrickson said.
The competition is open to the public and spectators are welcome. There will also be between 60 and 80 vendors selling archery equipment. Hendrickson said this equipment will represent some of the best in archery technology, and a lot of money changes hands at the tournament.
“Archery is like any other hobby,” Hendrickson said. “If you go into it wholeheartedly you’re going to spend a lot of money.”
Today and Friday will also see the Scholastic 3D Archery National Tournament for students from elementary to high school, although Hendrickson said the competition will “begin in earnest” Friday.
The Scholastic 3D Archery National Tournament will have more than 300 students competing for the honor of placing in a national competition. This tournament is open to any student participating in archery and will also take place at the Laurel County Fairgrounds.
Hendrickson said the archery tournament has grown since its beginnings six years ago, which is why such a large tournament is located in Laurel County.
“They like coming here,” Hendrickson said.