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Forrest Cooper started shooting with bargain store bow and arrows as a kid and moved on to “bigger and better bows,” he said.
His skills have grown bigger and better, too. The Central Hardin High School senior has competed for three years and is the 2013 Archery Shooters Association Shooter of the Year in the young adult pin class.
He played football but all the hitting and getting hit resulted in an injured neck. Some of his buddies talked about 3-D shooting. In 3-D archery, participants shoot at foam animal targets that have scoring rings on them. You have to be pretty consistent to hit them, he said.
Cooper discovered he really liked it and turned his attention away from football and toward archery.
“Somehow I’ve gone a pretty good ways with it,” he said. “I don’t know how, just a miracle I reckon.”
Last year he was invited to a scholastic 3-D shoot and Jennie Richardson, executive director of scholastic 3-D Archery, told him about the ASA. He won a tournament in London, Ky., and was hooked.
“Forrest is a great young man that is very humble, caring and he has a strong will to give back to the sport,” Richardson said. “He is an inspiration to everyone he encounters due to enthusiasm, passion and work ethic to be the best.”
She expects Cooper to accomplish anything he wants in his life because he is willing to work for it.
To win the ASA Shooter of the year, Cooper participated in seven tournaments and scored the highest combined scores of all others in his class. The tournaments took him to Florida where he came in second, Alabama where he took first place and West Monroe, La., where he came in third and meet Jase Robertson at Duck Commander Headquarters. Cooper took first place in Texas, third in London, first in Illinois and first in another competition in Alabama.
Cooper also is involved in FFA. At a recent FFA 3-D archery tournament he won first as individual shooter and the team, which also included Garrett Helm, Josh Johnson and Austin Bryan, won the team shoot.
“Forrest has worked to establish himself as one of the premier archery shooters in our area,” CHHS agricultural instructor Derek Smith said. “He is constantly practicing and looking for ways to improve his skill.”
Smith said at a Franklin Simpson shoot Cooper was the highest individual of all shooters which included some professionals.
“Even if we had dropped our lowest score, our team would have still won the event,” he said. ““It makes it easy to put together our FFA archery team when we have shooters like Forrest Cooper.”
Cooper hopes to earn a college scholarship for archery and wants to be a professional archer some day.
“I know that’s going to take a lot but that’s what I want to do,” Cooper said.
He also is looking to get a sponsor.
Archery, he said, takes a lot of time to perfect. You don’t just buy a bow and start hitting targets, he said.
“I can spend hours out here working on my form and never shoot an arrow,” he said.
He spends hours in his yard tuning the bow, practicing, working on his release and hitting targets.
“Once you do it, it feels good,” he said. “When you win it feels awesome and like you’ve really accomplished something.”
With every shoot he participates in, he comes home and starts working to improve.
“I’m a lot better than I was but I’m still not where I want to be. I’m still chipping away and it’s going to take a long time,” he said.
When he’s not working on his archery he is mud racing in his truck or hunting.
He’s learned patience from hunting after going several years without shooting anything. He prefers bow hunting.
“It’s a little bit more of a challenge to get them in closer but if you happen to harvest a deer with a bow it’s a bit of a thrill,” he said.
He shot a 10-point deer in 2011 and is recorded with Pope and Young which keeps records on bow-harvested big game in North America.
While hunting he tries to hit a four-inch circle to kill the animal. For competition, it’s much more precise, an arrow hole in a target. It makes him a better hunter and has missed a lot less deer when hunting since he began shooting 3-D.
“I don’t do a whole lot other than hunt and shoot a bow,” he said.
Becca Owsley can be reached at 270- 505-1741 or email@example.com.
Getting to know Forrest Cooper:
Favorite music: Country
Hobbies: He mud races in his pick-up truck at the fair and recently got into bow fishing.
Favorite movie: “True Grit” (2010)
Hunting: “Rabbits, squirrel, duck, deer, turkey; I hunt everything.” He was drawn to go on the Kentucky Elk Hunt and got one with his bow.
Dream hunting trip: Hunting moose
Pets: Two dogs named Lance and Ginger.
Family: Dad, Tony Cooper; and mom, Jenean Anderson.
Favorite TV: “Friends,” his dad joked that it was because of Jennifer Anniston.