FREEPORT – Emily Parker of Yarmouth likes to take on new challenges and sports.

“I’ve done a lot of things for only being 17,” she said.

Some of her pursuits include snowmobiling, hunting, kayaking, rock climbing, skeet shooting and something else — archery. In archery, she’s one of the best in the country in the female, under 21, compound bow division.

At a regional tournament in Andover, Mass., in February, Parker, a Yarmouth High senior, placed first in the national and Junior Olympic Development competition shooting from 20 meters. When her scores were combined with scores from eight other regionals, Parker had earned a 14th national ranking in Junior Olympics and a 15th ranking in the National Archery Association competition.

Parker is part of the Junior Olympic Archery Development program at L.L. Bean in Freeport. The program, in its first year, has 23 participants.

Coaches Brooks Bowen and Sam Coffin teach the youngsters the finer points of the sport.

Bowen has top shooters in Parker, Kyle Vorpagel, and brother and sister Levi and Gabrielle Cyr.

All four have been archers since they were young. The Cyrs have an indoor range at their West Falmouth home. Parker met Bowen at Nicely’s Precision Shooting Range in Gorham when she was a freshman.

“Emily has continued to develop as an archer with more and more focus,” said Bowen, who coaches lacrosse and football at Massabesic High. “The more experience she gains in regional and national competitions, the better prepared I feel she will be for everything she does in life.

“She has the potential to be a national champion. There’s only a point or two difference from where she is now to being at the top. You have to be very consistent in your shooting.”

Bowen became interested in archery as a means to extend hunting season.

“I’ve been a hunter for 30 years,” he said.

He started the JOAD at L.L. Bean to introduce the sport to another generation.

“It was a lot of legwork to get it going and raise it to the standards of L.L. Bean,” said Bowen.

“I’m very impressed as to how much it’s grown in a short time. We have three or four very young archers.”

Parker was introduced to archery at summer camp in New Hampshire in the eighth grade.

“I had no idea what it was, but my group volunteered me to do archery and I ended up getting the highest score,” she said.

Then, in the summer heading into her freshman year at Yarmouth, she and her dad, Tim, were driving to the dump when they noticed some bows for sale at a garage sale. Her father asked if she would be interested.

“I said, ‘Why not? I had shot a little bit in summer camp. It was kind of fun,” said Parker, an only child. “We bought three bows. We have a field at our house where my parents and I can shoot.”

From there her interest grew.

“I bought my first bow at Lakeside Archery in Cumberland. I started shooting there, but there weren’t many kids my age at the time so I moved to Nicely’s. Levi Cyr and Kendall Nicely shot there. I really fell in love with it,” she said.

To be good at archery, Parker said it’s essential to block things out and concentrate on the shot. As part of the JOAD program, the team has early-morning workouts during the season, which runs from November until spring.

The workouts help Parker pull an equivalent of 50 pounds on the compound bow. The bow takes a while to get used to because of its intricacies.

“I like figuring out how things work,” she said on why she likes the bow. “I really like to try new things.”

Parker doesn’t stay idle once the archery season ends. She’s on the crew team at Yarmouth. She plays field hockey in the fall. Besides those sports, she takes advanced placement courses and is a member of various clubs in school. She also sings. At the opening ceremonies at the tournament in February, Parker sang the national anthem on Friday night and Saturday morning.

Parker has been accepted at Unity College, where she plans on studying conservation law enforcement with the hope of becoming a federal game warden.

She also figures on bolstering the school’s archery team.

 

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]