Archers converge on Naugatuck

Abby Nappen, of Bow, N.H. and a member of the Junior Dream Team, releases her arrow downrange during the New England Outdoor Classic and the CT State Outdoor Archery Championships at Linden Park in Naugatuck on Saturday afternoon. -BILL SHETTLE/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — Abby Nappen, 16, has been involved in archery since she was 12, when she shot her first deer while hunting with her father. But she said her introduction to the sport had nothing to do with her hometown in New Hampshire.

“I’m from Bow,” she said with a laugh. “I understand the irony there.”

Nappen, along with her compound bow, made the trip south to Naugatuck for the 3rd annual Connecticut State Outdoor Championship and New England Outdoor Classic Archery tournaments on Saturday afternoon at Linden Park.

“These are both state-level tournaments,” Vice President of the CT Target Archers Association Chuck Brush said. “We have people from all New England states, except Rhode Island, plus from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California.”

Forty-six archers competed in the pair of tournaments that started Saturday morning with the Connecticut state championships. After the field was whittled down a bit, the New England Outdoor Classic began with a head-to-head elimination-style tournament to determine the winner.

Although the field was littered with top national players, Brush said most archery competitions are open and do not require any prior experience to take part.

“This is the second year here,” he said. “There is no qualification. Archery is one of the few sports where you can start this year, and you can go to a tournament and shoot against the No. 1 player in the world. You can’t do that in football and baseball, but you can do it here.”

But for Nappen, just getting the opportunity to get out on the field and compete is always a pleasure.

“It’s liberating,” she said. “It takes you out of real world problems that are happening in your life. It lets you take a break and truly live in the moment and I think that’s the best thing about this sport. So often in life you get caught up with work or school that you forget to just walk outside and sling some arrows.”