Chickasaw Caleb Griffin Mull first picked up a compound bow about five years ago. He carefully notched the arrow, felt the bow’s torque and let the arrow fly.
The arrow hit the mark and pierced Caleb’s love for archery.
From that moment, the 13-year-old targeted a mantra of “practice makes perfect” and set out to the best archer in his southwest Oklahoma hometown of Lawton.
First introduced to the sport by a P.E. teacher in elementary school, Caleb can now connect archery and its importance to his heritage.
“When I am shooting my bow, it is like in history when the older Chickasaws used a bow for hunting, we just have more equipment, Caleb said.
He learned the difference in the equipment thanks in part to a spring-break visit to the Chickasaw Cultural Center, said his mother, Erin.
“He got to shoot a bow in the Living Village,” she said.
At first, the arrow only flew about three feet and landed well short of the target and he was perplexed.
“He kept practicing with the primitive bow until he could make the arrow go farther,” Mrs. Hull chuckled.
“Caleb has discovered his sports niche, and we are thankful to the Chickasaw Nation for its support,” Mrs. Hull said. “I am truly thankful for the tribe. They have helped my family so much with education services and much more. I am grateful.”
This year, Caleb and his MacArthur Middle School archery teammates qualified to compete at the National Archery Tournament conducted in Louisville, Ky., last month.
“It was a fun experience for me,” the well-mannered seventh-grader said. “It was one of the most fun things I’ve done throughout my life. There were thousands of students there from around the country.”
After the three-day competition, Caleb ended the tournament ranked 83rd of 2,477 archers in the middle school boys division, and 284th of 5,734 overall.
His team ranked 123 of 197 in the middle school division.
During archery tournaments, a coed team of 16 archers are scored on six rounds, three at 10 meters and three at 15 meters. A perfect score is 300.
With one National Tournament under his belt, Caleb has one thing on his mind: keep practicing to get a shot at returning to Nationals again next year.
“More competitions give me challenges,” he said.
His ultimate goal is to compete at the Olympics someday.
For now, he will keep on practicing.
“My friends and I practice together and compete with each other,” he said. “It is a lot of fun.”
Caleb is the great-grandson of John and Barbara Griffin of Indiahoma, Okla., and the late Clyde and Imogene Griffin. His parents are John and Erin Mull, Lawton.
Some of Caleb’s other recent tournament results include:
Kiwanis Invitational: First place, seventh grade male and overall high score male, and first place – team.
Comanche Invitational: First place, seventh grade male, third overall high score male and first place – team.
Eastside Bulls-Eye-Bash: First place, seventh grade male, third overall high score male and first place – team
Oklahoma Regionals Tournament: Eighth place, team ranked 16 Male in region six.
Oklahoma State Tournament: 19th place male, eighth place team.