Bear River High’s Abby Weir Vaults To International Heights In Barebow Archery •
Story by Josh Howser | Photos by James K. Leash
Abby Weir’s breath steadies as she pulls the string back.
She aims down her arrow, eyes locked on the lone target nestled among the trees. The 16-year-old archer checks her aim one last time, and releases.
The arrow whistles through the air and lands with a thud in the bull’s eye.
This is life for Abby Weir, a top-notch archer from Bear River High-Grass Valley. The junior participated in the Dublin 2016 World Archery Field Championships in Ireland, placing fourth individually at this international competition. Since her outstanding success there, her goals have continued to grow. Weir plans on attending two more national competitions this year before competing in the World Championships again, which occur every two years.
Barebow Archery is a very refined form of archery, using no sights, stabilizers, or fancy equipment that other forms of archery use. The archer uses only his or her arrow and a string technique called “string-walking” to aim and shoot.
Though Weir is a world-class archer now, her beginnings were very humble. She went to a week-long summer camp, and there she took an interest in archery. But the usual forms of archery, such as compound and regular recurve, didn’t seem to fit her. That was when a coach introduced her to Barebow Archery, and she was captivated from then on.
“Basically it was just spur of the moment, and I got lucky,” Weir said.
Weir’s archery coach, Rebecca Nelson-Harris, talked about her discovery of the young archer.
“At the beginning, I had a little club,” she said. “I did classes for kids that were interested, and it was pretty relaxed and laid back. Abby was about the same as most of the kids, but she enjoyed it, and I get a lot of that. The following summer, all of a sudden, her accuracy improved incredibly and she listened very well to what I was saying. She just soaked up the instruction, and all the sudden I’m seeing this young lady that was outshooting everybody else.”
Weir’s ascension to greatness came soon afterwards.
“I mentioned to her mother, ‘Maybe she should think about competing; maybe she would like this kind of thing.’ And they were going ‘Yeah, she really does.’” Nelson-Harris said. “She was interested in Barebow, that’s what I shoot … Once we started focusing on Abby and coaching, instead of a group setting, she improved incredibly and, of course, made the (national) team last year.”
Nelson-Harris attributes Weir’s success to the effort Weir puts forth.
“Once I started coaching her, I had no doubt (she would go as far as she has), and I still have no doubt,” she said. “She’ll probably break my records, and do everything I’ve done, so I feel very good about that.
“At the beginning, I wouldn’t say I knew it. It has a lot to do with not just natural ability, but how much a person puts into it. And although she was good right away, she didn’t shy away from the bow, wasn’t afraid of shooting, and she handled it well. Unless a person devotes themselves to it, to really get to be an elite archer, it takes, like any sport, lots of work.”
Amy Besler, principal of Bear River, gushed about Weir’s accomplishments, on and off the range.
“The entire Bear River High School community is so proud of Abby’s incredible accomplishments in archery,” Besler said. “She is an outstanding representative of our student body, as she is hard-working, dedicated, studious, responsible, and focused. All of her hard work has paid off, both in the world of archery and in other aspects of her life, as she is also a stellar student and engaged member of our community.”
Jennifer Weir, Abby’s mother, couldn’t be prouder.
“No matter how many tournaments she wins or in which position she places, I love her with all my heart,” Jennifer Weir said. “I was so proud to watch her represent the USA in Ireland. It was like a dream.”
Abby plans on continuing the sport in her future.
“I plan to go to (the World Championships) every two years if I can qualify, and I also plan to be on a college club team,” she said. “I want to go to a college that has a nice club team. They don’t do it as an (interscholastic) sport at all; it’s just club oriented.”
Weir intends to make Barebow Archery a lifelong hobby, eventually planning to pass on her knowledge of the sport to younger generations.
“I want to be an instructor someday, for sure,” Weir said. “It’s not something I want to base a career on, but definitely as a hobby for the rest of my life.”