Jennifer Quinn is a typical sixth-grader. She enjoys school and parties, and has discovered she has a flair for art. She is also pretty handy with a bow and arrow.
A bow and arrow?
Meet Jennifer Quinn, 11-year-old state archery champion.
"I've tried other things," said Jennifer, a student at Mayfield Woods Middle School. "My dad tried to teach me how to play golf, but I was terrible. Then we tried tennis, and that was OK. I tried basketball at school. That was all right. Then I tried this."
About a year ago, Jennifer's father, Michael, asked her if she'd like to give archery a try. Michael, a novice at the time, had been competing in archery tournaments for about six months. Having watched Michael several times in competition, Jennifer figured, why not?
The results immediately were striking.
Jennifer, who competes in the freestyle cub division, won her first tournament, then the next one, then the one after that. And last month at the Maryland Archery Association state tournament, she won again. She is 10-for-10 in tournament competition.
Also, in her past four shoots, Jennifer has broken the 500 mark, a benchmark that puts the shooter in the neighborhood of perfection. A perfect score is 560.
"She has steadily progressed all summer. Her scores have gone up at every tournament," said Janice Wallace, secretary of the Maryland Archery Association, who added that Jennifer is one of 20 to 25 children 11 or younger in the state who are involved in the sport.
Archers shoot at 24 targets from distances ranging from 10 feet to 30 yards. Jennifer usually competes at a 10- to 15-yard distance.
"It's fun, but you really have to concentrate, and the bow is heavy," Jennifer said. "You have to hold it steady, and you have to shut out all the noise around you.
"At my first tournament, I didn't think I would win first place, but I did. I thought I would keep getting better, and I did. I'll probably stick with it. Or maybe if I get tired of it, I'll do something else. If there is a party or something else going on, I'd rather be there sometimes."
No matter. Earlier this year, Jennifer took a two-month break from archery. The first time she picked up the bow, she registered her highest score ever.
"She's really smokin' with it. I'm proud of her," Michael said of his daughter. "And everybody has forgotten about me. All they talk about is Jennifer."