The Brandkamp family sat in their home near Hallsville last Sunday as the rain steadily washed against their windows. Sharon Brandkamp worked at her laptop, scrolling through pictures of her daughter at various shooting events. Kelsey Brandkamp and her father Lee Brandkamp had just competed in a state archery tournament Saturday in Millersburg, but they were restless.
Their displeasure with the weather was clear. They would rather be shooting.
Target Archery: 9 a.m. Saturday at Stephens Park in Columbia
3D Archery: 7 a.m. Sunday at the NOMO Bowhunter Club near Moberly
Kelsey Brandkamp was a member of the Missouri 4-H Shooting Team that won the Tom Davidson Trophy in Kerrville, Texas last month.
Lee and Kelsey Brandkamp will participate in the 2010 Show-Me State Games that begin Friday in Columbia. They will compete in target archery on Saturday and 3D archery on Sunday. This Show-Me State Games will mark 16-year-old Kelsey Brandkamp’s third year participating. Lee Brandkamp remembers competing in the Show-Me State Games in the shotgun trap and skeet competition multiple times in the past, but has since shifted to archery to compete alongside his daughter.
“I enjoy spending time with her doing it,” Lee Brandkamp said. “I would enjoy spending time doing anything with her that she would want to do.”
Kelsey Brandkamp will be a junior at Hallsville High School this fall, but her passion for archery came before she was in elementary school.
“Whenever I would be out in the yard shooting when she was little bitty, she wanted to shoot with dad,” Lee Brandkamp said.
By age 4, Kelsey Brandkamp had a bow of her own.
“I got her a little fiberglass bow with a handful of arrows and just let her shoot the yard, everything but the dogs,” Lee Brandkamp said.
Quickly, she took her aim off the yard and began hitting targets. Her fiberglass bow was no longer adequate.
“At the age of 9 is when I put a compound bow in her hand with sights and a mechanical release mechanism,” Lee Brandkamp said. “Instantly she did well. She already knew archery basics at that point.”
Kelsey Brandkamp was regularly entering shooting competitions when she was 12.
“My first major, major shoot was a tournament in Metropolis, Ill.,” Kelsey Brandkamp said. “I shot in the youth girls class, and I got third place. I thought, ‘Wow, this is fun.’ We just started going to more and more shoots.”
Shooting sports are important to the Brandkamp family. Sharon and Lee Brandkamp went goose hunting on their first date. The family’s basement is decorated with trophies from its hunting trips, including turkey, deer and an authentic bearskin.
Lee Brandkamp’s favorite activity is also his job. He owns and operates Powder Horn Gun and Sporting Goods, a shooting sports store in Columbia that offers equipment and a room for indoor archery practice.
If Kelsey Brandkamp is not practicing her shot, she is likely helping a customer at the shop. She began working for her father occasionally last summer, but now works part time three to four days a week with her father. She has learned how to prepare arrows and measure a customer’s draw length.
“My dad and I have this connection where we can talk about archery, and we can do it together. He doesn’t have to help me with everything, but he does shoot with me and coach me. It has brought us together,” Kelsey Brandkamp said.
A wall in the shop is covered with pictures of the Brandkamp’s only child alongside game she shot on different hunts. As her daughter has grown older, Sharon Brandkamp transitioned from shooting arrows to shooting photographs. She attends her husband and daughter’s competitions, documenting the experience with a camera.
“It just got to where I couldn’t pack a bow and a camera, so I pack the camera,” Sharon Brandkamp said. "Usually, when I take Kelsey I want her to have the opportunity to shoot, and I’ve always liked photography.”
It is not unusual for Kelsey Brandkamp to be the only girl shooting in the Powder Horn practice room.
“All the people I’ve shot with, none of them have had issues with it,” Kelsey Brandkamp said. "They’re all pretty open-minded about girls shooting. Most people I know want girls to get into it.”
Lee Brandkamp says it is common for girls to compete in archery when they are young, but there is a certain age when a sharp decrease in participation occurs.
“When they get to age 14 and 15 they start dropping like flies,” Lee Brandkamp said.
Kelsey Brandkamp does her best to change the trend. She recently convinced her friend Becca Nowlin to give archery a chance.
“She had me come down to the shop and shoot a bow to see if I liked it,” Nowlin said.
One trip to the shop turned into more once Nowlin realized she enjoyed archery. She said she would not have shown interest in the sport if her friend never convinced her to try. Kelsey Brandkamp coaches her friend, passing along the techniques she learned from her father.
“It means a lot that she has helped me out so much,” Nowlin said.
Nowlin has started to join her friend at competitions. Nowlin said she will enter the Show-Me 3D competition on Sunday. Because they are both 16, the two technically compete against one another.
Kelsey Brandkamp doesn’t mind. She is more than happy to welcome anyone to the sport she says she will continue the rest of her life.