W.Va. girl is nation's top 3-D bowhunter

March 03, 1997


Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It took Kaitlyn Price only eight years to discover something most people need a lifetime to understand.

You can't always believe what you see. You have to trust your instincts.

The early lesson in life has guided 8-year-old Price to the recent International Bowhunters Organization's national scramble tournament championship, which was held at various sites across the country.

By believing in her talents over her vision, Price has become a budding 3-D bowhunting marksman, despite an eye disorder.

"I can't figure it out," Kaitlyn said. "I just look for the front leg of the target and go up a little bit from there because I can't see the heart. I usually hit the right spot."


Precision is the name of 3-D bowhunting's game. The targets are three-dimensional replicas of game animals, like deer and bear, with a scoring grid on the side. An archer receives 12 points for a center shot to the heart, which is surrounded by 10- and eight-point scoring rings. Five points are scored for hits outside ringed areas.

"You can't see the scoring areas unless you are right up on the targets," said Scott Price, Kaitlyn's father. "That's what makes this sport so unique. You can't find the lines, so you have to be able to judge the distance."

Judging the distance is a little more difficult for Kaitlyn Price because of her eye disorder. Still, she scored 264 points on 40 shots at paper Mechenzie IVR targets from 15 yards at Aroteck & Outerwear, Inc., in Greencastle, Pa. According to Don Ardery, the business' president and official scorer, Price finished first in a field of 28 in the Future Bowhunters, the 9-and-under age group. She defeated her nearest competitor by 36 points.

"I think (target shooting) is pretty cool because I get to beat the boys," Kaitlyn said. "I like doing it because I like to travel and I like to shoot with my daddy."

Scott Price started bowhunting 20 years ago but only began shooting in 3-D competitions three years ago. Kaitlyn became interested by watching Scott shoot. Two years ago, she asked if she could try. The competitions have become a part of family outings for Kaitlyn, Scott and his wife, Winni.

Although Kaitlyn has finished in the top three in a number of tournaments, she has earned a bigger prize through bowhunting.

"It has given her so much self-confidence," Scott Price said. "She has had corrective eye surgery and is wearing bifocals. Usually that's tough on a kid that age to have to wear glasses because everyone at school gives them a hard time."

Kaitlyn was born with weak muscles around her eyes, causing a "lazy eye" condition which allows her eyes to cross. The disorder has forced her to wear glasses since she was 10 months old. Scott Price said Kaitlyn's doctors are hopeful corrective lens will cure the problem and eliminate more surgery.

The eye disorder hampers Kaitlyn, but she uses creativity to overcome the problem.

"She can't square up when she shoots because she has trouble using the peep site (on the bow)," Scott Price said. "She can't wear glasses when she shoots. Sometimes when she's aiming, her eyes will begin to drift over and she will see two targets, so she closes one eye. We're trying to break her of that."

That's when Kaitlyn's instincts and new-found confidence take over.

"We don't know how she does it," Scott Price said. "If the target is blurry, she says she knows where to aim."

Still, bigger tests still lie ahead for Kaitlyn Price.

"She does well for her age, but there is a 100-point difference between her score and that of the next class," Ardery said. "Then, she will be shooting from 20 yards instead of 15."

The extra distance and judgment will further test Kaitlyn's eyesight. Doctors have told her parents that she gets older she will be able to wear contact lenses to help control her lazy eye problem.

"We'd like to get her the contacts," Scott Price said. "But it might make her worse if she can see the targets."

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