HELENA — Callah Kenney isn't your typical 9-year-old with aspirations of competing in her favorite sport at an international level.

The Helena resident has been in archery competitions in the region for some time. She upgraded her status quickly and doesn't plan on stopping in her quest to become one of the best-known shooters in the world.

The difference between Kenney and most 9-year-old’s dreams is hers might come true sooner rather than later.

With aspirations to be on the podium next year at the National Field Archery Association's Vegas Shoot event and eventually becoming a member of Team USA, Kenney is building her credentials, competing in the Cub Division of the freestyle genre. It's a division she'll be in until she is 11 years old.

At the age of 7, not long after she first learned how to shoot, she was competing in her first-ever competition.

Kenney placed second in the North West Sectionals before going to her first-ever international competition, where she placed first in the Dakota Classic.

In the 2018 season, the accolades didn't stop for her. Kenney placed first in the state competitions, second in sectionals, and did well in the Montana Open in Billings.

Kenney started shooting with her brother Kalab Stephenson in the 2019 season, and has entered in only one state competition this year, but earned first place in the Montana Open.

She placed 24th at the Worlds event in Las Vegas in February, seventh at the Indoor Nationals in Cincinnati and third in the First Dakota Classic in April.

Looking up to shooters such as Paige Pearce and Alexis Ruiz, Kenney would like to reach international competition in archery at their level.

Again, unlike most 9-year-olds with aspirations of meeting her favorite shooters, Kenney has done that. She met both Pearce and Ruiz during a 'shoot with the pros' event, which only gave more validity to dreams she is pursuing in competitive archery.

It hasn't always been easy. Kenney struggled in her first competition at Buffalo Jump. Here, fundamental mechanics of shooting were off at first, but three months later she placed first at a state competition.

She developed the enthusiasm for shooting from her parents. Kenney says she enjoys the concept of shooting at targets during competition.

"My mom and dad got me into archery," Kenney said. "The best thing about the sport is that I get to shoot an arrow, and hit what I am aiming at."

Despite struggling at first, Kenney quickly developed an affinity for the sport, according to her mother, Elizabeth Kenney.

"She just loves the sport," Elizabeth Kenney said. "Our first night at the kids' competition she completely missed the bail, and the first two nights she was struggling and frustrated. Then, she finally started hitting her targets at the end of kids league and won state. She didn't have a knack for this at the beginning."

Callah Kenney said she will continue to pursue archery and will make it her lifetime sport.

"I haven't thought about my goals beyond college yet, I am only 9 years old and that is a long way off for me," Kenney said. "I hope I do get scholarship money for college, though. One of my goals is to get my arm strong enough to pull back more weight. I practice a lot because I know I can always get better."

Unlike most 9-year-olds with grandiose dreams, Kenney, in many ways, has already achieved many of her aspirations, as she looks to make an impact on the international circuit of archery in future years.

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Jason Blasco is the lead prep sports reporter for the Helena Independent Record and a sports reporter for the 406mtsports.com network.


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