Olympic archer Casey Kaufhold has had a busy start to 2023. In recent back-to-back weekends, the Conestoga Valley grad competed in two of the largest archery championships in the United States.
“It was definitely tough having back-to-back tournaments. Leading up to (the Lancaster Archery Classic), I practiced a lot to prepare myself for the matches in the finals,” Kaufhold said.
Kaufhold won the Women’s Olympic Recurve division at the Lancaster Archery Classic, the largest indoor archery tournament on the East Coast, held Jan. 26-29.
“I was hungrier to win it this year since I finished second place last year,” she said.
About 2,700 archers competed in this year’s event at the Spooky Nook Sports complex.
Just one week later, Kaufhold competed in the Vegas Shoot, the largest indoor archery tournament not only in the United States, but in the entire world.
In fact, it was a record-setting year for attendance, with just under 4,000 archers registered for the event. The 57th Vegas Shoot concluded Feb. 5 at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa.
Kaufhold went into the Lancaster Archery Classic having already won the women’s Olympic recurve division once in her career. Scoring 615 out of 660 possible points in the qualifying round earned Kaufhold the No. 1 seed in the tournament’s finals.
On the path to another gold medal, Kaufhold was set to face reigning 2022 Lancaster Archery Classic champion Gaby Schloesser.
“Her and I are really good friends,” Kaufhold said. “It wasn’t too big of a shock to see her in the finals. I just went out with a clear mind and focused on working within my own process.”
Kaufhold took care of Schloesser in the finals, winning a gold medal and over $4,000 in prize money.
“Due to being at college I don’t see my family that often, so it was nice to have my family and coach there to support me,” said Kaufhold, now a freshman at Texas A&M. “It’s nice to have that winning feeling in your home community.”
Following her win in Lancaster, Kaufhold came into the Vegas Shoot with a bit of a target on her head as the reigning women’s recurve division champion.
“It’s always hard to not feel expectation when you’ve won an event before. There’s always a bit of added pressure being the reigning champion,” she added.
In Vegas, Kaufhold’s score of 292 on the opening day of the tournament was the eighth-best score of the day in her division. She faltered a bit on day two with a score of 289 before bouncing back with a score of 293 on Sunday.
As a result, Kaufhold narrowly missed the top 10, finishing 11th in the Olympic recurve division. Her total score of 874 was just seven off from her division-winning score from last year.
Despite wanting to perform better, Kaufhold noted that her finish did not come from a lack of preparation.
“I felt that I was prepared for (the Vegas Shoot),” she said. “I came off (Lancaster) feeling great, but some imperfections creeped back in with my technique and form.”
With two huge tournaments in the rear-view mirror, Kaufhold will start preparing for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
It will be the second time she has appeared in the Olympics, as she was also a member of the USA Archery Team that competed in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Despite her youth, Kaufhold has already made shockwaves as an archer. Winning two of the largest indoor championships in addition to being an Olympian is impressive enough.
“Everybody is born to do something, and I do believe I was born to be an archer,” she said. “Since I was 8 years old, I had always dreamed of winning an Olympic gold medal.”
On the other hand, having traveled so far along that path by the age of 18 is simply incredible.
“My main goal in life is to be a legend,” she said. “When people think of the sport of archery, I want them to think of the name ‘Casey Kaufhold.’ ”