People & Places: Fifth grader takes aim at title

PV student returns to nationals for the second straight year

Laureli Potter, a fifth grader on the archery team at Prescott Valley School, qualified for the national tournament for the second straight year.

Josh Atwell/Courtesy

Laureli Potter, a fifth grader on the archery team at Prescott Valley School, qualified for the national tournament for the second straight year.

Prescott Valley School fifth grader Laureli Potter is on her way to the National Archery tournament for the second year in a row. Not only is it her second year of going to nationals, but it’s also her second year of competing on the archery team, Potter said.

Potter, who’s a captain this year, actually helped set the standard for the rest of the team, said coach Josh Atwell. Though she’s the only one on the team to go to nationals, nine people from the 13 person team made it to state, he said.

This year’s nationals is scheduled for May 11-13 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Potter said her interest in archery started in second grade, seeing posters for the sport after watching “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” At that time, she couldn’t go, but wouldn’t let that stop her, she said.

“Finally it was fourth grade and I was excited,” she said. “I told my dad and he was all for it.”

Archery is calming, but there’s still a lot of excitement in hitting the red or the yellow, Potter said. Yet, there’s still challenges to face, she said, mentioning that a few weeks ago, she lost her aim and couldn’t shoot very well. However, though it was possible to give up, she followed advice to not move and didn’t give up, she said.

When it comes to coaching archery, it goes specifically for the athletes, their firing stances and shooting ability, honing in on imperfections that they have and working with the smaller ones, Atwell said. For instance, the team learned the closed eye technique where they close their eyes, aim at the target and fire, he said.

“It takes everything away and it takes all the concentration and it puts it all on your muscle memorization,” Atwell said. “I had them close their eyes and fire.”

A couple weeks later, the team was hitting the center of the targets pretty often, he said, commenting that Potter’s average score is 43 out of 50. She’s shooting in the high Bs and low As, he said.

During her first tournament, there was a lot of stress, but this time around, it’s not as bad, Potter said.

“My dad was there,” she said, mentioning how she worked through the stress. “My dad helped me through all of it.”

Atwell said he loves watching Potter’s accomplishments as well as helping her troubleshoot the difficult phases. Helping her get her aim back took about two weeks and was a bit of a puzzle match, but it was fun, he said.