Somewhere lays proof of Madison Wilkens’ introduction to archery.
The family’s Halloween pumpkins would feature arrows sticking out of them, courtesy of the four Wilkens children — mostly, though, by Madison.
“I’m sure her mother still has those photos somewhere,” joked her father, Jeremy.
As her father proved Sunday afternoon following the NFAA Outdoor National Target Championships in Yankton, there does remain photographic proof of a young Madison wearing a bright red sweater and holding an arrow.
Early on in her life, the sport of archery — which had been passed on to the children from their father — was nothing more than a family activity for Madison, now 18.
“I didn’t get too serious about it until later,” she said Sunday. “Then I fell in love with it.”
That love has blossomed into a successful outlet for Madison, who is a freshman at University of California, Irvine — she had to hurry back home for a final exam today (Monday). She captured first place in the Adult Female Barebow division at the two-day National Target Championships, joining her father who won the Adult Male Barebow division.
It was another successful outing for the Wilkens family, which has an archery passion that now spans three generations.
“My dad taught me and I wanted to teach them,” Jeremy said.
“I fell out of it for a while, but I thought this would be something we could do as a family.”
Of the children (two girls and two boys), Madison is the only one who has taken it “super serious,” according to her father.
“She’s picked it up really well,” Jeremy said. “She has such a good work ethic for practice and always wants to find ways to get better.”
The Wilkens family practices at an archery park that was the host venue for the sport at the 1984 Summer Olympics, according to Jeremy.
“We have really good archery competition in southern California,” he added.
That competition and the opportunity to see new places is what really sparked Madison’s interest in becoming a competitive archer, she said.
Madison, for example, has traveled to Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and South Dakota for various archery tournaments — she has come to Yankton a handful of times.
“I really like it here, even though the bugs aren’t any fun,” Madison said of Yankton, with a chuckle. “But the ranges are kept up well; better than most I see.”
Not only does she get to crisscross the country, Madison has the opportunity to compete with her father at archery tournaments.
“It makes the competition that much more fun,” she said. “When you can shoot against him, it’s extra motivation.”
And that motivation has turned into plenty of success besting her father, according to Jeremy.
“It was hard at the beginning, I’ll be honest,” he said. “The guys back home and the guys I’d shoot with would rub my nose in it.”
Not so much anymore, though.
“She’s beating all of them now,” Jeremy added, with a smile.