AMATEUR CORNER: Savannah Vanderwier
Like a lot of young, talented archers, Savannah Baye Vanderwier now finds herself at a crossroads.
The 19-year-old from Sheffield, Texas, recently graduated from high school. On Jan. 26, she won the Women’s Open division title at the Lancaster Archery Classic, which is one of the biggest indoor archery tournaments in the world.
So her archery game is strong in the amateur field. Which begs the question, “Will she go pro?”
“If I go to school and I’m trying to be pro, I don’t think that would work,” Vanderwier said. “So should I hold off on going pro until I’m done with school? Or do I take time off of archery completely?
“Anyway, it’s a lot. There are too many options.”
Shooting for PSE, Vanderwier had about as good a showing at the Classic as any amateur could hope for.
She shot a 643 in qualification. That was best in her division. It also would have been good enough to qualify her in the top 10 among the Women’s Open Pro archers.
In her first elimination match, Vanderwier dropped just one point for a 131. (Dusti Batsch was the only one of 16 Women’s Open Pro archers to shoot a 131 in the first elimination match.)
In her next match, Vanderwier dropped four points, but ultimately won on the second arrow of a shoot-off. She easily won her final match after dropping just two points.
Her qualifying and match-play scores were good enough to seed Vanderwier first for the Jan. 26 finals in Women’s Open.
In that match, Vanderwier shot ends of 32, 33, 31 and 33 to take the title.
Big-time competition certainly is nothing new to Vanderwier, who won an individual silver medal in the Compound Junior Division at the 2016 World Archery Field Championships in Ireland, a team silver in the Compound Cadet Division at the 2017 World Archery Youth Championships in Argentina, and an individual gold in the Compound Junior Division at the 2018 World Archery Field Championships in Italy.
But this year’s Lancaster Archery Classic was the first she’s ever competed in.
“We’ve been wanting to come for several years, but it just hasn’t worked out with other things my siblings had going on,” she said. “Finally we were able to make it this year. It was a birthday present for me and my dad.”
Vanderwier’s dad, Andy, has been her coach since Savannah first picked up a bow at age 10. He was in the coach’s box behind her when she shot for the Classic title, and was the first to give her a big hug after her final arrow hit the center 11.
Ironically, Dad’s path to coaching his daughter started nine years ago, when the local 4-H roped him into coaching their program.
“My sister and I tagged along, and I just fell in love with it,” Vanderwier said.
When it comes to tournament archery, Vanderwier shoots just about everything, but she does have a favorite style.
“My favorite is field, but I love all of it,” she said. “This year I went to my first ASA, and I loved it. I also love target.
“I love field. I love target. I love indoor. I love 3D. I love it all!”
And she expects that love of the game to influence her decision making as she weighs getting a job, continuing her education and turning pro.
“I have a few options, and so deciding where archery fits into that is a big part of deciding what to do next,” she said. “Archery is something that’s really important to me and I want to keep doing it as long as I can.”