Sky's the limit for the Crestview 6th grader
March 4, 2019
By The Den's Mike RIce
When Americans think of sports, it’s usually one of the “Big 4”, as they’re often dubbed, of football, baseball, basketball or hockey that come to mind.
While Monday morning office talk centers around which games had the most blown calls or whose fantasy teams had the best weekends, some minds wander outside of the big 4 cornered boxes.
In January of 2017, Huntington’s Kirah Klepper became one of those wanderers.
That month, Kirah’s elementary school was visited by the Huntington County Community School Corporation’s archery trailer.
The archery trailer is a mobile classroom, of sorts, that visits school within the corporation and assists the PE programs with instruction in the sport of archery.
Filled with entry level Genesis bows, which have no target sites, the trailer and PE archery courses give many students their first exposure to the sport.
While the equipment and course that Kirah took part in were both basic in nature, she had her Romeo meets Juliet moment that all passionate athletes have with their chosen sport.
The love affair would continue to blossom as Kirah started to shoot competitively.
In September of that year, Kirah would claim her first titles, as she took home the Indiana Field Archery Association (IFAA) 3D State Championship, as well as claiming the New Indiana 3D State High Score
The following Christmas, seeing their daughter’s interest in archery was far from one the passing phases that often steal a child’s attention and then fade like a pair of old blue jeans, Kirah’s parents, Duane and Rynell Klepper gave Kirah a brand-new Barnett Vortex bow.
Having upgraded “a few steps” from the Genesis she first learned on, Kirah’s performance was about to climb, as well.
From February through June of 2018, Kira would claim a plethora of honors and awards from different sanctioning organizations.
Starting with an Indiana S3DA (Scholastic 3D Archery) title in February and culminating with a McKenzie ASA (Archery Shooters Association) Pro/Am win in June, Kirah would add 11 more accolades to her resume.
Within that stretch of hardware accumulation was a national title in the S3DA Indoor class that Kyra grabbed in March. (For a complete list of Kirah’s titles, please see the list at the end of the article)
In July of that same summer, Bass and Bucks of Wabash was hosting the nationally renowned Rinehart R100 Tourney.
The travelling competition, with its large course of African and North American themed 3D targets would become the site where “my dad made me a deal”, as Kirah called it.
His daughter was ready for a new bow and her heart was set on a Hashtag Obsession.
Duane had s simple proposal for Kirah, score high enough and the bow is yours.
A few weeks later, Kirah had her bow
To an outsider, it would be easy to look at archery and see it as a simple “pull it back and let it fly” type of sport. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Much like the old mantra of the United States Postal Service, neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet shall keep an archer for his or her appointed rounds.
Unless mother nature forces the need to seek shelter, the shoot goes on.
That means adjusting for snow in your eyes, rain on your bow and your feet being caked in cement like mud. That’s on top of dealing with elevated targets and the glaring sun.
That said, judging by Kirah’s reaction, the most despised meteorological villain is one not seen, but only felt.
Humidity seems to have the distinction of being an honorary four-letter word in archery circles. So much so that when asked about it, Kirah simply replied “humidity, humidity”, with the same type of tone that might remind one of how high school students speak of finals week or younger children talk about a trip to the family dentist.
A shooter’s world revolves around their bow and those bows are treated with great care.
When Kirah travels to shoots, no matter if it be a short drive to her home shop of Bass and Bucks in Wabash or a longer trek to Cincinnati or Metropolis, Illinois, her bow rides securely in the car.
Obviously, weather conditions in the car aren’t the same as they are outside. Stepping from the air-conditioned atmosphere of a vehicle into the heavy air of a sweltering August afternoon or venturing out of the car’s toasty insides to a still near frozen fields of an outdoor spring shoot can wreak havoc on the strings of a bow.
Those strings expand or contract, depending on the conditions. Without the proper time for strings to acclimate to the outside conditions, an otherwise perfectly execute shot can miss its target.
If all of those wasn’t enough, shooters face more changes and adjustments each time they move from one class (age) group to the next.
Shooting distances are modified, types of sights differ, weight and pounds of pull (the amount of force required to pull back on the bow) change. The differences can seem to be endless and their impact can extend past a shooter’s accuracy.
After taking a month off, during the transition from outdoor to indoor seasons, Kirah began training to ready herself for a jump in class.
That meant shooting with a heavier, differently outfitted bow, with a higher pull than she had been using. It was a transition that didn’t going as smoothly as the Klepper’s had hoped.
While in the middle a three-stage tourney, archery’s version of the Triple Crown, Kirah and her parents noticed a dip in Kirah’s performance.
The culprit would turn out to be left bicep tendonitis, likely caused by the changes in the bow’s weight and pull that Kirah’s body hadn’t fully adjusted to.
Visits to the physical therapist and changes in her conditioning routine have Kirah feeling better. She’s already missed some competitions and admits it’s driving her “a little bit” crazy.
It hasn’t been easy for Duane, either. As a coach of not only Kirah, but numerous other shooters, Duane still travels to practices and competitions, anxious for the day Kirah can return to doing the same.
While sitting on the sidelines, waiting on an injury to heal, can add stress to what Kirah already describes as “definitely a mental game” it isn’t the only head game in town, as archers are no strangers to attempting to get mental edges over their opponents.
Glances, looks and stares are often exchanged between competitors. Kirah admits, it can be intimidating at times, especially when it comes from older shooters, including adults, some of who may be pro level shooters.
She’s learning to overcome it, though, as the results show. She’s also learning to give it a little, as well, having developed her own pre-shot “arrow flip” routine.
Kirah’s becoming adept at another arrow routine, as well.
Three times in her career, including once in a competition, she’s nailed what is referred to as a “Robin Hood”, which is the splitting of a previously shot arrow with another.
It’s a feat that doesn’t escape notice from fellow shooters. The sound of carbon fiber arrows cannibalizing themselves is loud. As Duane says, “oh, you hear it”.
It can be an expensive bragging right, as well. Arrows typically cost on the north side of twenty dollars each and a Robin Hood shot decommissions two at a time.
Still, there was a bit of a smile on Kirah’s face as she told us about how the shot ground to a temporarily halt and “the entire line stopped to look” when she recorded her competition level Robin Hood.
Even though she’s just a 6th grader, Kirah has already trained her shooter’s eye on the future.
A former competitive dancer, Kirah plans to audition for the Crestview cheerleading squad next year. She plans to continue showing her 4-H rabbits, too.
Archery wise, she’s received one endorsement offer, so far. While, Kirah ultimately decided the offer wasn’t the right fit, at the time, she’d like to capture an endorsement or two before she leaves middle school.
She’s thought about college, as well.
The endorsement deals won’t negate her amateur status or eliminate her college eligibility and S3DA (Scholastic 3D Archery) is a great link to college scholarship offers. In fact, the scholarship connection was a big factor when Kirah and her parents decided on which sanction they wanted Kirah to begin shooting in.
Beyond that, Kirah has another goal in mind. One that could be classified as the bullseye of all bullseyes.
She’s gone toe to toe, or, perhaps, we should say “bow to bow”, with some of the sports pro level shooters on more than one occasion.
She believes she has what it takes to consistently compete at the pro level and wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to make a living doing what she loves.
Doing so would mark the ultimate Robin Hood ending to a fairy tale that began, once upon a time, as just another unit in an elementary PE class.
Greenbear The Den plans to continue following Kirah as she rehabs from her injury and enters the upcoming outdoor season. Please, keep an eye on this site for updates.
Until then, please see the list of Kirah’s awards and accolades below.
September 2017 IFAA 3D State Champion
September 2017 New Indiana 3D State High Score
February 2018 Indiana S3DA Indoor State Champion
February 2018 IFAA State Champion
March 2018 National S3DA Indoor Champion
March 2018 S3DA Indoor Shooter of the Year
March 2018 4th Place National NFAA Indoor Championships
June 2018 ASA 3D Indiana State Champion
June 2018 ASA 3D Indiana Shooter of the Year
June 2018 Indiana S3DA State Champion
June 2018 Indiana S3DA Shooter of the Year
June 2018 4th Place S3DA National Championship
June 2018 McKenzie ASA/Pro Am Tournament Champion
September 2018 IFAA 3D State Champion
September 2018 IFAA New Indiana 3D State High Score
September 2018 IFAA Indiana Field State Champion
ASA – Archery Shooters Association
IFAA – Indiana Field Archery Association
NFAA – National Field Archery Association
S3DA – Scholastic 3D Archery