TALMA – To meet 15-year-old Hannah Drudge, it would be easy to assume many things. It could easily be supposed the petite, vivacious and outgoing young lady spends her days concerned with her schoolwork, getting a driver’s license, deciding how to spend Saturday evening and other things teenagers typically prioritize.
To be certain, those things are important to Hannah, but there is something else driving her and making her unique — her desire to shoot a bow and arrow as often and as accurately as possible.
“I can go about two days without shooting,” said the Talma teenager, a fact reiterated by one of her biggest encouragers.
“She’s an ‘archery-a-holic,’” confirmed Tami Ringer, co-owner of Ringer Outdoors in Rochester, the place where Drudge hones her skills year-round.
Hannah’s mother agrees. “When she can’t shoot, she becomes a bear,” Heidi Drudge joked.
Her father, Darrin, bought a bow when she was 7. She said she “played around with it” for several years but didn’t start taking it seriously until a couple of years ago. It was then she began going to Ringer Outdoors to receive formal training from Jon Ringer, affectionately known by many locals as “The Bow Doctor.”
“She had the drive and Jon had the expertise,” said Tami Ringer. “It’s not often you find a student that is this dedicated to the sport.”
“I like the stress relief it provides,” added Drudge. “I just go out and start shooting and I don’t have to worry about anything else.”
All of Drudge’s hard work revealed itself earlier this month when she competed at the Indiana Field Archery Association state indoor tournament, held at the Kokomo Event Center. More than 250 archers from throughout Indiana participated in the event, open to adults and youth alike. Competitors were classified not only by age, but also by the type of bow they used. Hannah competed in the bowhunter division, which many consider the purest category as it restricts the added accessories the bow can feature in order to improve its accuracy. It differs from the open class, which allows various sighting equipment, stabilizers and other options.
When she arrived in Kokomo, Drudge admitted she was a bit intimidated by the other shooters at the event, which included many professionals. “It was fun since I’d never done anything like that before,” she said. “After I started shooting my first round I was able to get focused and calm down. I realized it wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought!”
At the competition, Drudge amazed everyone with her performance, breaking a state record with her final score. According to Tami, Hannah’s final tally topped everyone else’s in her age group, including those participating in the open class. Amazingly, Drudge’s score would have put her in second place among all women in all age groups participating at the event in the bowhunter division. For her efforts, she came home with the title of state champion. Her finish earned her the right to participate in the national competition to be held in Louisville, Ky. an invitation she has chosen to forgo because of a previous commitment with her father.
“I really want to thank the Ringers for everything they do for me, as well as Darrell Stephens and Darrell Hopkins who are two of my mentors,” said Drudge. “I especially appreciate my parents for driving me around and supporting me in this. Above all, I couldn’t do this without God and the gifts he’s given me.”