Archery is one of the oldest arts and sports still practiced, dating back to 10,000 B.C.. In this modern age, it’s traditionally uncommon among younger athletes to practice archery, except for 15-year-old Bella Otter.
The Atascadero freshman sometimes has difficulty explaining her craft but thrives on her individuality in the sport.
"For me, I mean, I definitely value originality. I like to ride my own wave and not just go with everyone," she said. "It definitely is something I feel like is this thing that I hold onto, and it really speaks to me and is more personal. But when I tell people, ‘oh yeah, I shoot with a bow, I’m an archer,’ they’re like, ‘oh like (Princess) Merida, or like Katniss (Everdeen)’, just firing bows into the sunset or whatever. It’s like well, not quite."
Otter received her first bow for Christmas four years ago and began competing two years ago. Her ability to quickly succeed came natural. "This sport is similar to any other sport, some just take to it and it’s pretty easy for them," said Scott Wilson, co-owner of Central Coast Archery. "Others have to work harder at it. You appreciate all of it, but for Bella, it comes pretty easy."
Otter is on the Junior Olympic Archery Development Team, a two-time state tournament champion, placed eighth in the country at nationals, and recently placed second at Vegas Shoot, the largest and most prestigious indoor archery tournament in the world.
"Coming into it, I knew it was a really big thing, so I was like hoping, hoping to maybe get top 20, out of more than 100 girls shooting in my division, let alone 400 kids under 18 that were shooting," Otter said.
Otter technically finished tied for first during the two-day competition but the tiebreaker resulted in a small marginal second place finish.
With the way things are going, her next step could be the world stage.
"I haven’t put a ton of thought into it, to be honest," she said. "But I mean if it keeps going the way it is right now with the amount of people supporting me and how good this really feels then I don’t know, we’ll see."