Otter also broke multiple records, including her own, at the tournament
ATASCADERO — Local archer Bella Otter brought home first place in the U21 Women Compound Bow Division at the first tournament of her 2023 archery season. She also broke multiple records at the tournament, including some of her own from previous years. The 2023 State Championships took place in Tulare, California, on the weekend of Friday, Jan. 6, to Sunday, Jan. 8, and officially kicked off the indoor archery season.
“I kind of like to think of it as a way to put what I’ve been working on, in a little bit of the offseason, to the test in a slightly high-pressure situation. So more than just my backyard,” Otter said of getting back into the tournament setting. “Typically, when you start going to the first ones [tournaments], you get a good idea of where you’re at. So you’re like, ‘okay, I’ve improved on this and this and this,’ and then also you’re kind of like, alright, I have a pretty good idea of what I can do and what else I need to do before we start hitting the tournaments that are on the national, big championship scale.”
In her quiet season, Otter has been working with new-to-her arrow brand, Victory Arrows, dialing in on how to shoot with them in her own non-competitive surroundings.
“I had been experimenting primarily with some new arrows, a new arrow set up from a company that I was previously unfamiliar with as far as I hadn’t used their products or anything like that,” she said. “In the fall, I ended up trying out some of their arrows and felt like I really connected with them, and they were super. My biggest two things with companies are do they make a product I can win with, and are they super cool people that I can really represent? They immediately checked both of those boxes, and so I was super excited to show up on the scene and be shooting these new arrows in a tournament setting for the first time.”
The first day of the competition, Friday, Jan. 6, was Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD). Anyone in the under-21 division could compete, but there were no senior competitions on the JOAD day.
“That day, I ended up, right out of the gate, shooting my highest indoor score that I’ve ever shot at a tournament,” Otter said. “By the end of that day, with that new high score, I ended up beating my previous state record from 2021 in the 18 meters. Just the single round of 30 arrows at 18 meters.”
Otter also broke her own record in the FITA (the world governing body of archery) round, which is two rounds of 30 arrows each, for a total of 600 while at the 2023 State Championships. On Saturday, Jan. 7, Otter also competed in two 300 rounds, shooting 30 arrows in each.
“On Saturday, I again posted two super super consistent high scores, which I felt really good about,” she said. “It makes it a lot more fun when you’re just feeling really confident in your equipment, and you’re really feeling confident in the effort that you’ve put into dialing it in. And so to be able to show up and then to be shooting consistently scores that I was really happy with just made me all the more stoked.”
Otter went on to say that it was the same story on Sunday, Jan. 8.
“It was just a weekend overall of consistency that I really liked,” she added. “That’s what I was really looking for, and again just getting good clarity about all the progress that I’ve made and stuff that still can be improved upon.”
At the end of the tournament, Otter had broken another record for the 18-meter that was previously set 13 years ago, in 2010, by Paige Pierce.
“She is currently the number-one-ranked female archer in the United States. She came from California, and she’s still going strong,” Otter stated. “She’s so rad. She’s currently ranked number one in the national rankings system for archery. And I’ve shot with her before, been with her up on the line, and she’s one of those people who is so easily a role model, and so it’s cool to be able to have role models like that.”
Otter also ended up beating the record for the Double FITA, which is all four 300 rounds combined from Saturday and Sunday, by 11 points.
“Most of these things are typically broken by a point or hardly ever more than five,” added Otter.
Next, Otter will compete in the Lancaster Archery Classic in Pennsylvania on the weekend of Jan. 27 and will follow that up with The Vegas Shoot in Las Vegas, Nevada, the first weekend of February, which is the biggest tournament of the entire year.
You can follow Otters’ archery adventures through her Instagram: @bella.otter.archery.