Pa. archer Casey Kaufhold may be first US woman in 48 years to medal in Olympic archery

by Admin
Pa. archer Casey Kaufhold may be first US woman in 48 years to medal in Olympic archery

A Pennsylvania archer is looking to become the first United States woman to win an individual Olympic medal in nearly 50 years.

Casey Kaufhold, 20, of Lancaster will be traveling this month for the Paris Olympics where she is rated No. 1 in the world among female archers.

In 2023, she became the first American woman to reach the top of the Sanlida World Archery rankings since they were established in 2001.

“That was a big accomplishment for me. I had that goal for a long time. I can’t think of the first time I thought of that, maybe when I was just starting World Cups when I was like 15 or so. That was a big goal of mine,” she said. “In no way did I think I was going to accomplish that at 19 year old. That was kind of like a dream come true. But I worked really hard.”

The Olympic archery trials started last September and ended in May when Kaufhold found out she qualified for Paris and was ranked No. 1.

Casey Kaufhold takes aim at at target June 28, 2023, in Lancaster. She will be competing in archery in the Paris Olympics.

She now has the chance to be the first American woman to receive an archery individual medal in the Olympics since 1976, 48 years ago. That year, Luann Ryon of California earned the gold medal at the 1976 Montreal, Quebec Games.

“I’m excited about it. There’s been a lot of talk surrounding where I’m at in history, but I like to focus more on just myself,” she said. “I don’t want to be compared necessarily to people who have done it before. I don’t want to be the next them. I want to be me.”

This isn’t her first time on the Olympic stage.

Kaufhold competed in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, where she placed 17th in the individual competition, eighth in the women’s team and ninth in the mixed team. The competition was delayed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and there were no spectators watching the events.

Kaufhold said it was challenging not having her support team there. In the years leading up to the Olympics, she met with other Olympians who spoke about the sound of the crowds and being able to watch other competitions, but she wasn’t able to do that because of the COVID restrictions.

This year’s Olympics will be different.

“Having my family and friends being able to travel with me and watch there is awesome. I can’t wait,” she said.

She’s matured as a competitor since the last Olympics.

“That feels like a lifetime ago even though it was three years ago. I think I’ve just grown a lot as a person,” Kaufhold said. “Even from being like 15 and traveling with the senior team, I had to grow up fast just because I was half the age of the rest of my teammates. That was a very different experience.”

With traveling around the world for shoots, she said she feels like she’s older than 20.

Casey Kaufhold’s Olympic schedule

In Paris, Kaufhold said archers will shoot the rankings round on July 25. Paris is six hours ahead of Pennsylvania’s Eastern Time Zone and the event actually starts at 3:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

“The recurve women will have a break for two days and then we shoot team rounds through to medal matches on the 28th,” she said.

In addition to the individual competitions, Kaufhold will be shooting in the team event with Catalina Gnoriega and Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez, both 21 and live on the West Coast, and she plans on shooting on the mixed team as well. Her teammates are planning on traveling to Lancaster to train with her.

“We’ve improved a lot over the last year as a team. We won the Pan Am Games last year and the Pan Am Championships this year, which is awesome,” she said. “We were fifth at world championships last year, which was the best a U.S women’s team had done in world championships in a long time. I think together we are really strong. Something that I’ve really enjoyed is that it’s been the three of us for the last maybe two years, going on three. So we have just gotten a lot of experience together and are very comfortable shooting together.”

The mixed team members will be finalized in Paris but will include Brady Ellison of Arizona. He’s the lone U.S. male archer, but there are three women competing for the two remaining positions.

On July 28, the women’s team competition starts at 10:48 a.m. Eastern time with the bronze medal match followed by the gold medal match slated for 11:11 a.m.

On July 30 and 31, the women’s individual elimination rounds start at 6:26 a.m. and run through 12:50 p.m. both days, and Aug. 1 from 3:56 a.m. to 10:35 a.m. The women’s individual matches start at 8:33 a.m. Aug. 3 with the bronze medal match followed by the gold medal match at 8:46 a.m.

The mixed team competitions will be held starting at 10:24 a.m. Aug. 2 with the bronze medal match followed by the gold medal match at 10:43 a.m.

Rob and Carole Kaufhold watch their daughter Casey draw her bow June 28, 2023, as she practices for the Paris Olympics.

Kaufhold is familiar with the field where she will be competing in Paris as she’s shot there in other events.

“This is my fourth year shooting in Paris, so I’ve been there quite a few times,” she said.

She won the 2023 World Cup in Paris on the stage being used for the Olympics.

“We did an Olympic test event and I won that event,” she said. “So that was a pretty neat experience to have on what will be the Olympic stage.”

Personal goals for Paris

“My biggest goal going into the games is to shoot like I have nothing to lose, because I don’t,” Kaufhold said. “You can’t lose something unless you have it and so to me, I just want to shoot like I know how and not be distracted by everything going on around me. To me, if I go out there and I feel like I shoot my best and somehow don’t come home with a medal I’ll still feel like I did everything I can. The medal is just a bonus. My goal is to go out there and shoot like me.”

How her archery skills developed

Kaufhold started shooting a bow at age 3 and has continued to improve ever since.

“We used to just shoot in the backyard. We had a few targets and I won’t hit them. I probably hit the shed behind them more than the targets. We would just shoot for fun,” she said.

When she was 8, she joined the club at her family’s Lancaster Archery Academy.

“I was one of the youngest there. So I was watching all these older kids and they were really good.” Seeing their success made her want to improve as well. “I want to work really hard and shoot like the older kids,” she said. About four years later she was good enough to compete in national competitions.

“That’s where I decided that was what I want to do for a long time,” she said.

Casey Kaufhold is ranked No. 1 among women archers leading into the Paris Olympics.

What sets her apart

During competitions, Kaufhold is shooting at targets with her recurve bow that are 70 meters (more than 76 yards) away. She is one of the few left-handed competitors in the sport.

“I wouldn’t say that’s a good or bad thing, but something I’ve noticed is a lot of people aren’t used to a lefty because I face them. Right-handed people face one way and most people are right-handed in archery so I face looking at them and some people aren’t used to that,” she said.

With archers needing to require a sharp mental focus, her left-handed style can surprise competitors who don’t often see someone facing them that close on the range.

Kaufhold credits her early days of being in gymnastics for her strength and body awareness in keeping her form consistent when shooting a bow.

“I grew up doing gymnastics more competitively than archery at first. I did competitive gymnastics from when I was 6 to 12. So learning to fly through the air and knowing where you are at at all times to not land and hurt yourself. You have to really know where you’re at and so I think that helped me a lot knowing body awareness at a young age,” she said. “So when I’m shooting my bow now and I have a bad shot, I’m like OK I know exactly what I did that made a bad shot and when I shoot a good shot, I’m very intently feeling all the motions through my form.”

She focuses on strength and balance with a bow that weighs 8 pounds and has a 40-pound draw weight.

“I shoot a pretty heavy bow for a recurve woman, but to me, it holds really nice and I feel like I’m very stable with it,” she said. The bow is front-heavy with a 27-inch long stabilizer on the front.

Casey Kaufhold prepares to draw her bow as she practices June 28, 2023, in Lancaster.

Good luck gear

Over the years, Kaufhold had a certain jersey she would always wear on finals days.

“It was the first jersey I wore to win a medal at world championships in 2021. That was like my lucky jersey for a long time and I wore that for every finals day,” she said. She has lucky hats as well.

During the Olympics, she said people watching the competition may be interested in the Western style of belt and buckle on her quiver.

“I get a lot of comments on my belt and belt buckle. It’s so random. I got that at a thrift store in Yankton, South Dakota. It’s from one of my first events that I medaled at and so that’s kind of a special thing that I’ve had for a few years and get a lot of comments on it,” she said. “I guess not a lot of people overseas wear big belts and belt buckles. It’s something you don’t normally see. It may not be from Lancaster but it’s very Casey.”

Routine before competitions

She meets with a sports psychologist to stay sharp and to develop mental strategies for the event.

“I do a lot of journaling. After my practices, I write things that I did well and things I want to improve,” Kaufhold said. “And I’ll have written down goals. I’m a very goal-oriented person so I’ll write down my plan for the event and how I’m going to do it.”

She also makes sure she practices in weather she may anticipate at the venue.

“If I know that it’s somewhere where it’s usually windy, I’ll try to train more in the wind rather than when it’s calm out,” she said.

She also stretches a lot to keep her muscles limber and gets plenty of rest to recover after her practices and long flights that include time zone changes. For example, she recently returned from Turkey where there was a seven-hour time change from Pennsylvania. “I’ve been waking up a little early the last few days,” she laughed.

She also spends a lot of time on the practice course.

Casey Kaufhold stands next to the worn path leading to her practice targets June 28, 2023, in Lancaster.

“I like to shoot around 250 arrows a day. That’s usually my average and I do seven days a week. I might take one of those seven days a little bit lighter, but most of the time seven days a week. And usually 250 arrows take me a few hours in the day, so I might spread it out, depending on what I’m working on, it may take longer,” she said.

To keep her mental focus with that many arrows, Kaufhold tries to break it up between morning and afternoon practice sessions.

Her years of practice at her home have worn a path deep in the ground that reveals the countless steps she has taken to get to this level of success.

NASP competition: Pennsylvania teen archer excels in national, world competitions


“I bow hunt and just started rifle hunting this last year. I do enjoy bowhunting for sure. It’s something we grew up doing as a family and I hope to keep doing that for the rest of my life,” she said.

While she shoots a recurve bow in competitions, she uses a compound bow for hunting because it’s shorter and more maneuverable.

“I’ve always said I wish I could hunt with my longer recurve bow because I’m a little more accurate with it than my hunting bow,” she said. “But it’s different, it’s a change of pace. It’s fun, it’s not so competitive. It’s just a hobby, something to do for fun.”

Deer hunting is different than target shooting where she knows the distance.

“I’ve always said if there’s a deer exactly at 70 meters (the distance for her competitions), I could get that thing easily. Bowhunting is really challenging, it’s been a fun challenge learning how to hunt with a compound,” she said. “You can’t predict anything that a live animal is going to do, so that makes it challenging but it’s part of the game.”

Kaufhold believes target shooting and archery hunting have mutual benefits that help her improve in both sports.

“They are very different, but when I’m looking at a big deer that I’m about to draw on, I get the same amount of nerves, maybe even more than when I’m shooting a match with my recurve bow,” she said. “So it’s kind of funny how they are two very different circumstances but you still feel the same amount of pressure. It’s interesting how that goes hand in hand.”

Foundation in archery

The young archer inherited her love of archery from her parents, Rob and Carole Kaufhold. They own Lancaster Archery Supply in Lancaster and have a distribution center in Leola. Rob started the business in 1983.

“I shot as a child, just like our kids did,” he said, including shooting in the junior Olympics and other competitions.

He opened Lancaster Archery at the age of 21 and his passion has led to the creation of being a premier target and 3D archery shooting supplier around the world.

Casey Kaufhold, center, stands with her parents Carole and Rob Kaufhold at their family business, Lancaster Archery Supply. The archery grew up in a family who enjoys shooting bows and arrows.

Carole joined the company in 1994 and is now the chief executive officer.

Rob Kaufhold remembers being an early adopter in technology to reach customers around the world.

“We were one of the very first in our industry online with an e-commerce site in 1996,” he said.

His wife remembers, “That was truly the beginning of distribution on a much larger scale because we started taking orders over the internet.” She wasn’t sure that was the right time to add the new technology. “When he said internet, I was thinking nobody is going to want to do that and sure enough they did,” she said.

They now have two travel tournament trailers that carry archery gear and technicians to major archery events around much of the country all summer.

“In target and 3D archery, we are well known,” Rob said. They provided the target faces for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

They also sell a wide range of archery gear for people who enjoy archery hunting as well.

More: Experts share five things that can make you a better archer

They are looking forward to traveling to Paris with their daughter. “We’re excited for her and looking for a great Olympics,” her mother said about her two-time Olympian.

With the the global pandemic happening during the Tokyo games, the family had to watch from home including the qualifying matches before the games.

The distribution center for Lancaster Archery Supply in Leola has an image of Olympic competitor Casey Kaufhold and her brother Conner.

“It was very overwhelming,” her mother said about Casey’s first qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics while shooting in Salt Lake City. “Not because she was going, but it was very overwhelming that she realized such a huge goal and that it had come to fruition. But it was also sad because we weren’t going to be able to be there,” Carole said. “You had mixed emotions at the same time you were so happy that she was going, but then you were sad because this is a huge event in her life you weren’t going to be able to share in person with her. We watched everything online.”

This year, Casey will have plenty of support in Paris with her family and friends being able to attend.

“This time, it’s her second one, but in some ways, it feels like the first one because we didn’t get to go,” Carole Kaufhold said. “I have no idea what it’s like because I’ve never seen one, so it’s the very first experience for me, too. We’re newbies and she’s experienced.”

Even though Casey is ranked No. 1 and expected to win a medal, her parents are just proud of their daughter.

“To me she’s Casey. She’s just our little girl, but it is exciting and we hope she doesn’t feel the weight of having to perform,” Carole said about the high expectations. “We hope she goes and shoots her best and enjoys the moment and lets it happen,” she said.

Rob agrees. “Mentally, you have to put it aside, compartmentalize or shoot the arrow like it means the same as shooting the arrow in her backyard without the expectations of where that arrow is going to go or what that arrow may mean or not.”

Casey Kaufhold’s future

Kaufhold is planning on dedicating her career to archery as a competitive shooter. She spent a year at Texas A&M but put her education on hold to solely focus on archery.

“I loved being an Aggie, but I’m somebody, I don’t do something halfway. I need to have straight As in school and be shooting at the top of my game in archery. I had straight As in school but I felt like I didn’t have enough time in the day to be as good in archery as I wanted to be,” she said.

She’s hoping to be able to compete in at least the next several Olympics which happen every four years.

“I’d say definitely through 2032 is my goal, Kaufhold said. ‘That will be in Australia and I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, so that will be a cool trip.”

Rob added that Casey has the potential to compete even longer

“I think I will always be part of Lancaster Archery no matter what, whether that’s my say or not,” Casey said laughingly to her parents. In December, Casey purchased a home in Lancaster to help out whenever she can.

“I plan on always having a part of me here in Lancaster,” she said.

Brian Whipkey is the outdoors columnist for USA TODAY Network sites in Pennsylvania. Contact him at and sign up for our weekly Go Outdoors PA newsletter email on this website’s homepage under your login name. Follow him on Facebook @whipkeyoutdoors.

This article originally appeared on The Daily American: Olympics 2024: Pa. archer Casey Kaufhold aiming for Paris gold

Source Link

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.