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Karen Wilcox did not grow up athletic. She was not interested in sports, did not feel competitive and hated gym class. But now about nine years into bowhunting and target shooting, this self-declared “tomboy chubby kid” has found her groove. Wilcox frequently competes in 3d archery shoots and travels around the Northeast for bowhunting trips.
“Archery has opened a whole new world to me,” Wilcox said. “I didn’t even realize that it was such a huge thing, especially in this area.”
Wilcox is on the pro staff for Straight Arrow Archery in Chadwicks, New York. She represents the brand at events and archery shoots. Her brother is an instructor at the shop. She is also involved with the Beast of the East Archery Shoot held each year in conjunction with the Big East Camping and Outdoor Sports Show at Turning Stone Resort Casino. She takes photos and provides support for archers participating in the event.
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“A lot of people need a little encouragement,” Wilcox said. “There are a lot of professional archers there so it can be intimidating. I talk to people about their shooting skills or whatever they need to put their mind at ease. But really it is such a fun shoot.”
Wilcox said she has made so many valuable connections at archery events. One specific women she met at the Big of the East stands out for her.
“The first time she shot she was so nervous,” Wilcox said. “She had just started. We became really good friends at that event and we stayed in touch and then the next year she came she was amazing. She had improved so much. It is so rewarding to see people grow like that.”
She shot at the Worlds Competition a few years ago and came in 13th in her class in the world. What she really enjoys is the challenge of it.
Wilcox took first in her class at the RBD Shoot last year. Her husband and her brother were in the crowd cheering for her.
“This was the first time adrenaline ever took me over,” she said. “I was so nervous. I was shaking. It was very overwhelming. There was a thousand dollars on the line but you would have thought I was shooting for a million. And I couldn’t miss!”
Wilcox was always a “daddy’s girl.” Her early love of the outdoors came from spending time with her dad welding, camping, hunting, and riding motorcycles.
“As a kid I pretty much did everything my dad did,” she said. “I can remember being maybe three or four years old and he would throw me onto the front of his tank and take me for a ride. As soon as I was able to I bought my own motorcycle and he taught me how to ride.”
Wilcox was also encouraged by her dad in her archery and bowhunting journey.
“He would always say ‘beat the boys!” she said. “He was a big part of my life. He was always my biggest fan.”
One of her favorite memories of bowhunting happened on a trip to Southern Ohio in November 2019. They had sat for five uneventful, rainy days. She was ready to call it quits. On the sixth day everything came together. There was a doe underneath her and she saw a buck about forty yards out in front.
“It was just like out of a fairy tale story,” she said. “He starting walking towards me and I just saw horns. It came towards me and I said to myself ‘I’m done. This is going to happen.’ I had so much on my mind because if the does underneath me winded me they would have taken off and then he would have taken off. And he was quartered towards me. It was a very challenging shot. Everything about it was very difficult.”
She took the shot and it looked like it went in further back than she wanted. But once she recovered the deer, she was elated. It was a magnificent 12 point.
“It was bigger than anything my husband had ever shot,” she said. “And he has shot many deer.”
She does some bowhunting in the Adirondacks and some in the Southern Zone, in addition to her trips out of state. She likes that the season is earlier than gun hunting because the weather is warmer so it is much more comfortable to sit in the forest.
Wilcox plans to continue honing her archery skills while doing what she loves to do. She is excited for upcoming archery shoots.
“I enjoy shooting. And I do want to improve,” she said. “But I honestly do it for the fun of it. If I do good, fantastic. If not, that’s okay too.”