Family duo draws top ranking for archery meet

A father-daughter team from Odell will represent the Appleknocker Bowmen at this weekend's state archery tournament.

Steve Miller and his 13-year-old daughter, Jessica, have spent the winter honing their shooting skills for the Bend competition. They will face off with about 150 other archers from across Oregon in the two-day event sponsored by the Oregon Bowhunters Association. On Friday the Millers will stand at the 20-yard mark and shoot five arrows during six rounds in hopes of nailing the bullseye for a perfect 300-point score. The final six rounds for the remaining 300 points will take place on Saturday, followed by an awards banquet.

"I feel really nervous and don't know how I'll do under pressure, but I'm just going to try to be myself and have fun," said Jessica, a Wy'east Middle School student who will be entered in the Youth Freestyle Division.

Steve, 40, will face tougher competition in the more experienced Adult Bowhunter Freestyle Division. He currently shoots a 296-point average and said he hopes to score the perfect 300 that has eluded him to date -- but is not going to become stressed out about that goal.

"I'm not putting any expectation on myself, I'm just going to try to shoot the best I can and be happy with that," said the avid outdoorsman who is employed as a pre-salesman for Columbia Gorge Beverage in The Dalles.

Appleknocker President Roy Nellermoe said Steve's easy-going attitude and long-time familiarity with the bow -- three state championships in his teens -- will play a key role to his success.

"The hardest thing they will experience is shooting under pressure but they just need to compete against themselves and stay relaxed," said Nellermoe.

Steve introduced Jessica to archery at an early age but said she really became interested in honing her skills after getting a custom-fit compound bow this year. The remaining members of the Miller family, including wife/mother, Rita, Shelley, 10, and Nick, 6, will cheer from the sidelines this year, although both of Jessica's siblings are also budding archers and may be on the line themselves in upcoming years.

Nellermoe said Steve and Jessica will be the first father-daughter team to attend the state meet from Hood River. He said their participation highlights the family opportunities afforded by archery since it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.

"All little kids love to shoot a bow and it's just great fun," said Nellermoe.

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