Local archer goes for the gold
Will third time be a charm?

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

Having a talent to shoot a bow has given Jason McKittrick, 33, opportunities he never dreamed of. But, one dream is still just points away - that of placing on the archery team for the 2008 Olympics.
Hoping that the third time will be the charm he’s looking for, McKittrick has already placed as alternate in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. “It’s just not good enough,” he smiled as he talked about the challenge.

McKittrick, who is an agriculture engineer with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Greensburg, noted that he first became interested in bow shooting when he was about 14 or 15 years old. He said he and a friend went to a local conservation club where he realized he had a talent.
Throughout his college years, McKittrick competed in Olympic Style Archery. He uses a Hoyt model with a Sureloc sight (made in Versailles by CS Gibbs Company). He competed in 3-D tournaments “just to learn to shoot a little better” and wound up making the All American Team at Purdue his junior year. A year after graduation, McKittrick made the US Archery Team.

The Holton resident says he has traveled to many countries while competing. He’s been to Japan, Cuba, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Greece and Australia, to name a few. He won a Gold in Winnipeg at the 1999 Pan Am Games. He’s even made a commercial, gaining a GM car in the process. He met Tiger Woods, who was in the same commercial and he’s given a speech at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis in front of more than a thousand people. “I’ve had some great opportunities,” he noted.

While this is the year McKittrick wants to make the top three in archery to be able to travel to Beijing, he says, “I feel like I’m not putting as much pressure on myself this year.” He said last year was his “worst year” and he knew he had to change some things. He’s had a year to work on his technique and it paid off this July when he set a new 70 meter national record scoring 343 out of 360. The old record, set in the late 80’s, was 341.

McKittrick said his confidence shot up when he set this record. He then traveled to Colorado where he came within one point of setting yet another national record.

The first leg of the journey for the 2008 Olympics will begin for McKittrick next week when he competes in Atlanta, GA on September 27. This will narrow the field to 16 contestants. Then in April, he’ll travel to San Diego, CA, for the second round of the competition, where it will be narrowed to 8. The final round will be in Phoenix in May of 2008, where the final team is decided.

Six days a week you can find McKittrick practicing his technique at his rural Holton home. He says he usually practices for an hour and a half each day and tries to shoot 150 arrows. He agreed, physically and mentally, you have to be prepared. There are a lot of variables when it comes time for competition, one big factor is the weather. “Whether it’s windy or not, if the sun is shining or if it’s raining, all those things make a difference,” he noted.

While McKittrick says he wasn’t particularly athletic in high school, he did run track and was on the wrestling team at Milan High School his senior year. He said archery is more about the mental ability than physical. “It’s about your personal performance at an event,” he told the Osgood Journal.
McKittrick’s wife Julie is a great support to him. A teacher at St. Nicholas Catholic School in Sunman, she said, “He’s a great role model.” The McKittricks have their own good luck charm this time, or maybe just a charming little daughter, Elizabeth. The eight-month-old was oblivious to her father’s ability to shoot a bow, but was enamored with the bow itself. The Olympic hopeful is the son of David McKittrick and the late Rickie McKittrick. His step-mother, Mary, father, and brother, Scot, are all supportive of his endeavors.

Hoping his record setting trend will carry on into the future, McKittrick is looking forward to bringing home the gold. Even if he doesn’t, he’s already a local hero. After all, how many people from Ripley County have made alternate to the Olympics even once, let alone twice?

Jason McKittrick pulls his practice arrows from the target after he shot a few arrows at his home last week. He practices six days a week for the upcoming challenge of making the Archery Team for the 2008 Olympics. He uses a Hoyt bow (pictured) with Sureloc sight, made at the CS Gibbs Co. in Versailles.