When Elsie Rector, 13, picked up a bow and arrow in sixth grade, she naturally took to it.

The J.T. Alton Middle School student from Vine Grove soon rose to a top scorer, becoming a state finalist this year and competing in nationals on May 10.

“I enjoy doing it,” Rector said.

Her scores last year were in the 220s and now she averages in the 280s, shooting 290 at state. The top score you can shoot is 300.

“Elsie has a tremendous work ethic in everything she does, not just in the athletic department,” athletic director Richard Rowland said. “She’s going to pour herself into anything she tried to do completely and that’s what impresses us at the school.”

She has improved an average of 50 points from one year to the next, he said.

“That just doesn’t happen,” he said.

During a competition, each archer shoots in six rounds with five arrows in each round. The highest score you can get for each arrow is 10, Rector said.

The NASP national competition in Louisville consists of the entire eastern region.

When asked if she was one of the best, Rector replied, “I guess.”

Her coach, Ryan Neuman, said in all she does, Rector is “cool, calm and collected.” Neuman said Rector does her best shooting when it matters most in the biggest tournaments, including state.

To be a good archer you have to practice and have a good coach. You also need to be focused, she said.

Rector practices about three times a week so she doesn’t burn herself out.

She also competes with Bluegrass Archery, which is 3-D shooting and has a different point system.

“I’m nothing short of amazed. She’s very talented at archery,” her father, Matthew, said, adding Rector also excels as a student. Even though she’s quiet, he said he can tell when she’s excited about how she shot.

“She started out having never shot a bow and now here we are today,” her mom, Lucy-Jane, said.

When Rector shoots, her mom notices she never moves her feet and also looks at the markings and scuff marks on the floor to make sure her feet are in the same place each time.

Rector shot a record three perfect rounds, Rowland said.

It’s difficult, he said. Com­petitors shoot with an unmodified bow using an aluminum arrow that’s lighter than what hunters use. The bow has no sights and no counter balance. Using that bow, Rowland said, she can shoot 10 points away from a perfect score at state tournament.

“She was able to step up to the line at the state tournament and do that,” he said.

And she does it humbly. After shooting one round, she nonchalantly told him she shot 50, as if it was no big deal.

“Elsie has a bright future if she continues from here,” Rowland said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.