The arrow of her way: At 13, Lindsey Carmichael took her first archery lesson; two years later she tops sport
By: Jim Terrell, Editor, NLT LOG March 21, 2001
Lindsey's design for last year's "Texas Shootout 2000" competition.
Lindsey Carmichael, 15, will be inducted into the National Honor Society tonight at Lago Vista High School right on target. And where else but "on target" for an archer who liked Robin Hood as a youngster but never thought it would lead to this?
The tall, slender sophomore with strawberry blond hair - in addition to being a scholar, writer, school newspaper reporter, hometown newspaper correspondent, photographer, artist, computer designer, animal shelter volunteer and home laundress - is not just an archer but an accomplished one at that, and has been almost from the outset.

Her biggest accomplishment came March 4 at Texas A&M in the National Archery Association's 31st National Indoor Championship when she won the National Indoor FITA (a French acronym for the International Archery Federation) for female intermediate Olympics bow competition. Since no indoor venue exists large enough for all to compete together, simultaneous competitions were held for archers elsewhere in the country.

On the way to her new title for the 18-meter event, Lindsey bested 18 other teenage girl archers from Texas, Ohio, Utah, Massachusetts, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas and Alaska. She finished one point behind the winning collegiate division winner, an All-America archer, and scored higher than all but one adult woman archer in the competition.

A short, but not too shabby, start for a skinny kid who put down her canes to take up the sport in October 1998. Lindsey walks with the aid of canes due to a rare birth condition that creates weak spots in her bones, making her susceptible to broken bones. Says her mother Gina, nurse for the Lago Vista middle and high school campuses, matter-of-factly, "We fix it when it breaks."

At the suggestion of her middle school math teacher, William Trotter, who made his own bows, Lindsey, took up archery at age 13, "liked it" and "picked it up so I could keep shooting until I'm old and gray."

Since beginning classes at an Austin indoor range, she "kept practicing, got better, accumulated more equipment over the years, gained experience and more equipment and developed stamina." Practice usually meant firing 150-200 arrows in a two-hour session at the range; in inclement winter weather, she shoots down a hallway into a closet on the third floor of the family's spacious lakefront home.

More equipment meant a bow and arrow, not the compound type used by hunters or the kind of bow the Indians lost the West with.

An Olympics or recurve bow, made of graphite and a magnesium-carbon alloy, goes for $1,000 and includes a stabilizer and other bells and whistles that make it look like a Sci Fi weapon. Aluminum carbon arrows with plastic feathers cost $10 apiece. Only the synthetic bow strings are handmade, hers twisted by her father.

"The physical part wasn't so important as the mental part," she said, "sticking with it, not letting a bad shot get to you, concentrating on your goal, and it'll happen."

And happen it did. Her first competition at the Texas State Outdoor meet, June 12-13, 1999 saw her place first, a position she was to occupy over the next two years in 11 of 24 events, culminating in the national win earlier this month. Along the way she set several state records and a national mark that has since been exceeded.

All of this is detailed by event and illustrated on her own, self-designed website. Lindsey also designed the T-shirt for the Texas Shootout 2000 in Austin last year. Her father, Ron, a computer consultant, is webmaster for the Texas State Archery Association and her mother is treasurer of the association.

Their records show that Lindsey outshot 21 of 31 adult level female archers (placed 10th in adult competition), 34 of 35 collegiate level female archers (placed second in collegiate competition), 25 of 27 FITA competitive archers (placed third) and all of the Intermediate Female archers (placed first in her division).

In addition to hours of shooting, her training regimen includes stretching exercises and some weight-lifting. A pulled muscle means "a trip to Jeannie Brown's massage therapy."

To prepare for a shoot, she listens to music with her tastes running from the haunting (Enya) to the hyper (Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick, or Aqua Lung), depending on whether she wants to relax or pump up her spirits.

"Most people don't realize it's a very mental thing," she said. "If you're not in the right state of mind, it's not worth going to the tournament."

At last year's annual shootout in Austin, actress Gena Davis, who tried out for the Olympics team, shot next to Lindsey. With this much early promise evidenced, surely Lindsey must have her own Olympics aspirations as a lock for a future world games.

"Well maybe, you just never know," she said. "But the difficulty is that girls who go to the Olympics shoot maybe 400 arrows a day. It takes up a lot of time. So you'd have to devote all of your life to archery and, you know, I do it more for the fun. I think putting on so much pressure would suck away the fun."

There would be the prospect of an archery scholarship at A&M, which has a world-ranked team, but she leans toward the University of Texas with its archery club, instead of archery as a sports program.

"I want to go into writing somehow, so UT is probably a better choice for me," said the recent winner of a regional visual arts scholastic competition for a photograph featured in a photo essay in the LOG last summer and an oil-pastel landscape. Her marks were a lot like her scores on the archery range - a three out of four for the photo and a perfect four for the landscape.

For wearing orange to the College Station competitions, Lindsey said she takes a teasing. But probably not when she has her bow in hand.

©North Lake Travis Log 2001

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