Two years ago the Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press reported a story on Atascadero freshman Isabella Otter who was just starting to make a name for herself when she finished tied for first, ultimately taking second, in her age group at the The World Famous Vegas Shoot 2018. In 2020 and a new age group, Otter headed to the Vegas Shoot already with two state titles under her belt, shot her best score, and then won a National Title just a few weeks later.
The indoor archery season begins with the new year and with it comes a new chance for the best shooters in the world to test themselves against one another through various competitions. In a standard archery competition, all contestants will stand 18 meters (about 20 yards) back for their shots at the target, either the 10-ring standard size (bullseye roughly the size of a half dollar piece) or Inner 10 scoring (bullseye the size of penny, 23mm).
The Atascadero sharpshooter began her season in early January at the USA Archery State Championship and walk away with a medal around her neck. In the tournament, which used inner 10 scoring, Otter shot a total of 120 arrows for a score of1135 out of a possible 1200. The junior hit the bullseye 57 times and the ring just outside it which scores nine points 61 times and was crowned State Champion.
Following her success in Tulare, Otter made a trip to Santa Maria to compete in the California Bowman Hunters State Championship,Santa Maria being only one of the various locations across the state that competitors could shoot at, which was on standard scoring and again finished in first place.
This time, Otter only shot 45 arrows and was nearly perfect, shooting a 447 out of 450 with 42 ten point shots and three worth nine. Following the conclusion of the Bowman Hunters tournament, Otter stayed at the venue and continued to shoot so she could enter her score into the National Field Archery Association Southwest Sectional which crowns the best shooters of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Hawaii. Otter continued to shoot her best and posted another amazing score of 297 and while the results from the Southwest Sectional have yet to be released, she is confident in her score as it is a few points higher than the winning score from 2019.
“It was crazy!” Otter said.”And it was only the beginning because I still had two or three more competitions to go to. I had the energy and just wanted to keep it high and that also made me really motivated to kind of keep it like that.”
While Otter is one of the top archers in the country and unquestionably so in the 16- to 17-year-old age range, she is also a student and an athlete. The current Atascadero Greyhound also runs cross country in the fall and is currently on the Atascadero track and field team participating in the distance events. After winning back-to-back state titles and a possible Southwest Sectional, Otter was motivated and committed to practicing everyday as she looked ahead to the Las Vegas shoot.
“I was on a roll,” she said. “Which encouraged me to keep practicing almost everyday of the week at Central Coast Archery in San Luis Obispo, leaving early from track practice in order to have time to shoot before starting my homework.”
The World Famous Vegas Shoot is one of the biggest competitions in the world and brings in competitors from all the corners of the globe. Two years ago in her previous age group, Otter finished tied for first before moving up a division and into one that is much tighter in 2019. On possibly her hottest streak ever, the junior went into Vegas and put up her best score ever and placed seventh out of 119.
Grown accustomed to the taste of victory, Otter enjoyed the tournament and was delighted with her score but was still thirsty for more.
“Overall it was higher than my two previous years so I was super stoked with myself,” she said. “But there wasn’t any big title or anything like that. It was super fun though.”
With just the National Championships left in the indoor season, the Atascadero marksman went to Sacramento on Valentines Day weekend. Otter was back to the penny-sized target and inner ten scoring and once again beat her own personal best by posting 293 out of 300 on both days for a 1163 out of a possible 1200 with 83 tens and 37 nines.
Unlike normal competitions where a winner is crowned a few moments after their performance, Otter was forced to wait. Shooting for the National Championships are held every weekend in February in select locations throughout the country. For two weeks the junior waited until finally it was made official.
In just one season,a three month span, a junior in high school from Atascadero won two state championships, perhaps a sectional championship, and a National Championship and has grabbed the attention of some of the top archery organizations for not just being one of the best 16- to 17-year-old shooters but one of the best female shooters period.
“[After Nationals] The USA Archery organization will take the top eight scores shot by any female regardless of age group to Kentucky for an elimination round showdown, whether you’re a sponsored professional or a kid, like me,” Otter explained. “Out of hundreds of female competitors, I was ninth in overall top scoring, missing this “top eight” group by one point!”
Finishing just a few points out of the “Top Eight” has Otter more motivated than ever with the start of outdoor season just around the corner.
Otter will be competing in four different events in outdoor season, one in Chula Vista, one in Long Beach, one in Sacramento and one in Tulare starting in March.
“The outdoor Arizona Cup would be in the mix too, but Prom is that weekend and I’m trying to soak in being a high school kid along with soaking in the success and happiness that comes with archery,” Otter said. “All that success and happiness couldn’t come without the support of my coaches and mentors at Central Coast Archery, who have given me the opportunity to be able to do what I love and continue to improve. I also definitely couldn’t have flourished without my dad, who ultimately has given me the most unconditional support and is there with me for every success!”