McArcher: Davin McAlister is one of the best female competitive freestyle bowhunters in Colorado
Davin McAlister found the one thing that makes her tick — a compound bow, an arrow and a target.
The 16-year-old Palisade High School student is one of the best female competitive freestyle bowhunters in Colorado, if not the nation.
McAlister recently returned from a first-place finish at the Rocky Mountain State Games in Colorado Springs.
McAlister’s win comes one year after placing first in the State Games of America.
McAlister also owns three Colorado state records, including a two-day mark of 1,406 points, which she set in July 2009.
“It motivates me knowing I can get that next record,” McAlister said. “At a lot of the tournaments there aren’t a lot of girls my age doing it, so rather than thinking ‘Oh I’ve got it’, I’ll say, ‘I’m going to go against every girl who’s ever shot in my class and go for the records.’ “
No family member or friend led McAlister toward archery. It was simply curiosity and sibling rivalry that drove her to pick up a bow.
“My brother (Logan) has always been into sports, so I needed something to do besides academics,” McAlister said. “I thought of archery, so I tried it and loved it.”
There are several types of archery, but McAlister was taught freestyle bowhunting by her coaches at Red Rock Archery in Grand Junction.
Freestyle bowhunting uses a compound bow and has competitors shoot at a variety of targets and distances.
McAlister said she’ll have shoots that range anywhere from 20 to 80 yards.
“There are all types of different shoots,” McAlister said. “There are ones where you have 15 rounds of six arrows from 20 yards. There’s another course where you walk through and shoot animal and field targets.”
McAlister has had success at the different types of shoots, all while employing her unique style.
One of McAlister’s trademarks are a pair of torn, ragged flip-flops. McAlister said her shooting attire usually draws interesting looks from the other competitors.
“I always get weird looks. We’ll be walking on the mesa for shoots, and everyone else is running around in hunting boots,” McAlister said. “But I love those flip-flops, and that’s what I wear, even in the winter.”
Although McAlister’s shoe choice might throw off her competitors, she’s completely locked in. In fact, it was the focus and concentration of bowhunting that clicked with McAlister.
“I loved how much you have to concentrate,” McAlister said. “It clears your mind, and you just block out all the stress of school or friendships.”
McAlister wants to study physiology, the science of the function of living systems, in college. That choice makes it easy to understand why she’s been so successful in archery. Archery requires acute focus, and one wrong move pushes the arrow off target.
“Archery is very particular,” McAlister said. “If you move your arm or twitch your wrist, the arrow goes off. The focus comes in to make sure you’re focused on not only sighting in the bull’s eye, but making sure your body is in control.”
McAlister’s goals are to compete in college before moving onto the worldwide level.
McAlister’s competitive season ended last week, but she’s gearing up for the National Field Archery Association World Archery Festival in February in Las Vegas.
“I never expected for this to click as much as it did,” McAlister said. “It’s made me more confident in who I am and what I can do.”