Jordan Dearman’s father Gil had an enjoyable, encouraging way to teach his young daughter aim and accuracy when shooting a bow and arrow.
“When I was very young just starting out, my dad would give me a quarter if I hit a balloon (during target practice). I would try to hit them all so I could get more money,” she said with a smile and a giggle.
But when Jordan was 9 years old competing in her first national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, she realized that continued practice would pay off in more ways than one and archery was more than just an enjoyable recreational activity to enjoy with her family.
“I got third place in the 13 and under division,” she said. “That really lit a fire, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
Now an 18-year-old senior at Jefferson City High School, Jordan has added to her ample local, regional and national archery award collection, securing fourth through first place plaques in all seven national Archery Shooters Association 3D Season competitions last year and the 2017 Shooter of the Year champion title in the Women’s Known 40 class.
Now backed by national sponsor Mathews Archery, Inc., Dearman hopes to secure another successful 3D season, more championship titles and many more archery accolades in adulthood. She certainly has her eye on the target.
“Jordan puts 110 percent into everything she does whether it is school or archery,” said Sonia, Jordan’s mother. “We are so proud of her and encourage her to follow her passion.”
Before she began popping balloon targets with her arrows, she watched her older brother Justin learn the sport from Gil, who has many archery awards displayed in their family home.
“Then when I got to the age where I could pull a bow back, he taught me everything and showed me how to do it,” she said.
Justin equally shared her interest in archery. The siblings practiced together at home, shot together on the weekends at the United Sportsmen’s Club where the family still practices, and competed together.
“My dad would set a target about seven yards in our basement, and we would shoot them,” she said. “We would practice and practice; I’d even watch TV at the same time.”
Jordan began competing in local indoor tournaments at 8 years old, gaining experience and building on her skills. Then, she branched out into regional and statewide events through the Missouri Bowhunters Association, before taking on her first national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky a year later.
A couple thousand people attend that tournament each year, getting to watch the professionals shoot first. In addition, a fun bonus shoot takes place allowing three amateurs and a professional to compete together. One year at that tournament, Jordan was excited to meet a professional archer she looks up to, world champion Levi Morgan.
“That was pretty awesome,” she said. “He had his own shoot in Pennsylvania, with more long range targets. It was really neat.”
Competing against about 100 shooters in her division at that national tournament, Jordan has taken home two third place finishes and a second place award from Louisville, Kentucky.
In the last few years, Jordan has stepped up her competition schedules, concentrating on participating in more national competitions both hosted by the Archery Shooters Association and the National Field Archery Association. The latter hosts indoor tournaments. They are often set up with occasional three-spot targets using 30 arrows total with 10 at a time and two minutes to shoot, or five-spot targets where archers shoot 12 rounds with five arrows each to shoot in four minutes like at the national tournament in Kentucky.
“The NFAA holds a couple of big tournaments a year – one in Las Vegas, which I went to in 2015, and a South Dakota shoot. For the nationals, we used to go every year. But I’ve been to those two shoots just once,” she said. “I got nervous even though I practiced. I was in (the teens) in my placement. There you are shooting next to someone who speaks a different language with people there from all different countries. It was crazy, but so fun. … I won the shoot in South Dakota (earning a sectional champion title); it was the best I had shot in awhile.”
In outdoor archery competitions, Jordan is still equally strong with a different target. She said instead of shooting a paper target inside, she is shooting a foam animal target outside in wooded area. Scoring rings help the shooters earn points, with hitting the body of the animal counting as five points and eight, 10 and 12 ring spots also located on the target.
“The 12 is usually in the bottom corner, but you can call the upper 12 and shoot that one,” she said, pointing to a picture at a national outdoors competition where she hit the 12 ring to secure a high-placing award.
Competing with five or six people in a group during the Archery Shooters Association and other outdoors tournaments, Jordan competed in the Women’s Known 40 class alongside adult women for the last few years. In that class the target is at a 40-yard maximum distance designated with a certain color stake and take two minutes to shoot the foam animal target. Beginning the 2018 Archery Shooters Association national 3D season in late February, she has moved into the Women’s Open B class, which is similar but includes a few more challenges.
The competitions are not all about archery. It is a time Jordan can see many of the friends she has made through the years participating in local, regional, state and national competitions. She has close friends from Sedalia and other states, such as Caylee Franklin from Kentucky. Their camaraderie and respect for each other as people and talented archers encourages them to push their abilities behind the bow.
Those good times also translate to the rewards they receive for placing high in each national tournament. Many sponsors contribute cash prizes to top finishers. Jordan received several monetary awards last year, including $1,000 for earning the 2017 Shooter of the Year champion in her class. This title is determined from calculating the points earned during the season and various criteria, which result in first, second and third placement for that award. She sometimes gets special prizes.
“At the ASA tournament in Texas, I won. It is the only shoot that the winner of the class gets a belt buckle,” she said. “It has a cowboy hat on it and is really detailed; I love it.”
Jordan often wears this badge of honor during competition, along with shirts and gear from the national sponsorship she secured with Mathews Archery, Inc. after turning 18 in November. She has upgraded six or seven times from her first compound freestyle bow, ready to kick off her national outdoors competitive season with a brand new one.
“I love my bow and everything about it. It shoots well and I’m just comfortable with it,” she said of a compound freestyle bow. “I haven’t tried other kinds before. I tried this, liked it and have simply stuck with it.”
There are so many other awards Jordan has won, sharing the same honors as her decorated archer brother. Justin now serves in the United States military, recently finishing a tour in Korea and was able to visit Sonia, Gil and Jordan earlier this year.
Jordan’s ambitions carry into all aspects of her life, with plans to study dental hygiene after graduating high school. But competitive archery is definitely on her horizon into adulthood, and Jordan encourages others to follow whatever their passion is. She has, and it has served her well.
“Keep trying and work hard, put in the practice and do it,” she said. “Have fun and do what you love. I work hard, but I have fun and love shooting.”