- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

SENECA, Pa. (AP) - Pulling back slow and steady on her pink 20-pound compound bow, Alexis Dehner rips an arrow straight to the center of her 3-D target.

She does it again and again and then once more.

Lowering her bow, the trophy-winning archer flashes a smile and confidently reaches into her quiver for another arrow that will invariably strike dead center again.

Alexis, winner of medals and trophies and a top-ranked bowman whose talent has been described in flowing terms by professional adult archers, is eight years old.

Granddad’s gift

“My PaPa gave me a bow when I was four or five,” said the diminutive shooter, a second grader at Cranberry Elementary School. “He taught me how to shoot and I really like doing it.”

The bow bestower was Fertigs resident Tom Prody, an archery enthusiast who Alexis quickly described as “really, really good.”

Alexis is the daughter of Greg and Tara Dehner of Seneca and the granddaughter of Tom and Julie Prody and Daryl and Sandi Dehner of Seneca.

“We shoot, too, but Alexis just whoops us and that’s embarrassing,” said her mother, adding that although the movie “Hunger Games” about a young female archer has stirred girls’ interest in the sport, that isn’t the case for Alexis “because we think she is a little young for that movie.”

A repeat champion

While Alexis has a keen affinity for the bow and arrow, she also has incredible talent as an archer. In her past 12 archery contests, she has finished in first place in all but one of them.

The competition has included both large and small fields of young contestants who shoot at both traditional bull’s-eye targets and 3-D targets.

“I lost one. I’m really just doing it for fun. But, I wish I had won all of them,” said Alexis. “There will be more, though.”

The youngster practices every day in a target range set up in the basement of her home. Other practice sessions are held at Archery World on Route 157.

At the age of six, Alexis won her first competition at an International Bowhunting Association match in Fairview. In addition to local contests, she has also taken top honors at matches in Seven Springs, Erie, Warren, Butler and the Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club.

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