Practice with the Pros is an opportunity for junior archers under the age of 17 to meet and shoot with their archery heroes before competition at The Vegas Shoot.
Over two lines taking 45 minutes each, young archers interact with the experienced shooters, take advice, snap pictures and even get autographs.
Fourteen-year-old Kearstyn Cotten has traveled from Anchorage, Alaska, for the past three years to shoot in Vegas. She never misses Practice with the Pros.
“It’s a lot of fun because you get to shoot with a bunch of a different pros, you get to meet them and just talk to them, and they are like pretty normal people,” she said.
“When you’ve been shooting for a while and you shoot with them for a little bit, you realize we are all just people, we are all shooting arrows. The only difference between pros and amateurs is that the pros shoot a little bit better than the rest of us.”
Although Kearstyn said she doesn’t have a favorite archer, she does look up after Chris Bee and compound women Paige Gore of the USA and Erika Damsbo of Denmark.
“My first year was the 50th year anniversary of The Vegas Shoot, which was in 2016. I think it was my favorite because there were a lot of pros that year, and that’s when I met people like Chris Bee for the first time,” added Kearstyn.
Kearstyn said she asks for tips on equipment, mental game and that she enjoys receiving advice even when she hasn’t asked for it.
At Practice with the Pros in 2019, Kearstyn shot next to George Ryals, who she trained with in December at a camp he held.
“I think my favorite part is having more competition because in Alaska I don’t have many kids of my division,” she said.
Kearstyn was diagnosed type 1 diabetes in 2010, which means that her pancreas doesn’t produce the hormone insulin. Ever since, along with her family, they have raised funds for related charities.
Four years ago, through her passion of archery, she decided to start The Diabetes Shoot, an archery tournament that raises funds for the American Diabetes Association. The reason: help more people like her.
“Now being a competition archer, I love being able to join my two passions, archery and helping those with diabetes, into one event,” she said.
“The event is usually held in November because that’s diabetes world month.”
Help Kearstyn by visiting her page and supporting her projects.