Published October 16, 2017
Chickasaw archer Caleb Mull takes aim during a practice session prior to tournament competition.
ORLANDO – A Chickasaw archer is a world-class competitor with high finishes in the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) World Tournament competition in late July.
Caleb Mull, a junior at Lawton McArthur (OK) High School, finished fifth in 10th grade boys; 27th in high school-aged boys; and 40th in overall competition. He was among the top 2.5 percent of all male competitive shooters at the tournament.
“I could have performed at a higher level,” Caleb said. “I rushed through the first targets during the first day of competition. I told myself to slow down, relax, improve my aim and it paid off during later rounds.”
Caleb’s father, John, couldn’t make it to Florida. However his mother, Erin, was by his side during the competition.
Mrs. Mull teaches archery at Flower Mound School, where she is also an academic instructor. In her spare time, she is one of two archery coaches at Lawton McArthur.
The Mulls make archery an endeavor involving the entire family.
Caleb’s younger sister, Katelyn, is a top competitor.
A fourth-grader, Katelyn is shooting competitively although she is just now entering the grade where formal teaching and training begins at the school level. Caleb began shooting in fourth grade as well.
“We are proud of both of them,” Mrs. Mull said. “We encourage them to be the best they can be. It is something they both wish to do. We don’t pressure them. We are content to be supportive in all things they wish to do.”
Caleb said he wasn’t nervous competing on the world stage. He knew of a few archers he competed against, but mostly he was going against people he was not acquainted with.
Over several days, he competed in his first-ever world competition and, if all goes well this school year, he will be back to compete in 2018. Practice for the upcoming high school archery season began Sept. 18.
Archers advance to state competition and, if they qualify, advance to nationals. If scores are high enough at nationals, they advance to world competition.
That is how Caleb advanced in 2017. Preparation and practice led to excellent archery in all phases of competition.
Archery is physically taxing. Caleb competes with Genesis equipment which is sanctioned by NASP because the strongest “pull” is 20 pounds. That may seem light considering most hunters pull bow weight of between 40-60 pounds.
However, pulling 20 lbs. repeatedly in an all-day competition can become very tiring and cost an archer points if he has not prepared himself mentally to tackle the challenge. Caleb also lifts weights to strengthen his upper body for archery competition.
“I slow down and make sure I am paying close attention to the target,” he said. “I concentrate on ‘groupings’ and attempt to make them as small as possible.”
Groupings are placing arrows very closely together on a specific area of the target. The tighter the grouping, the higher the points.
Each target consists of a pre-determined circle or marked area where archers attempt to place arrows.
Caleb has been perfecting his archery skills and competing in school competitions for years. He is already an award-winning archer having competed in national competition in seventh grade. In 2017, he qualified for nationals with scores that advanced him to world competition.
Statistically, Caleb finished in the top 2.3 percent of all archers at the tournament. He was the only Oklahoma high school archer to compete.
Remarkably, Caleb does not hunt … well at least not with a bow and arrow.
“I love to duck hunt,” he said. However, quarry such as deer, elk, wild hogs and large game animals he could dispatch with bow and arrow are not on his agenda.
Caleb, with shotgun in tow, will be tucked in a duck blind when the season begins Nov. 4.