From Chickens to Champion: Chase
Roberts is Unstoppable From Chickens to Champion: Chase Roberts is Unstoppable

Chase Roberts of Ashville, Alabama, fell in love with archery during fifth grade, partly because he liked competing against his older brothers, Zac and Hunter, who shot tournament archery. He also wanted to win a college scholarship.

So far, so good. The 17-year-old high-school senior is already a state, regional, national and world-champion archer. Earlier this year he also made the U.S. National All Star Team and competed against other high-school archers at the World All Star Championship in Drakensburg, South Africa. He is ranked No. 7 in the United States in his age group in tournament archery.

Roberts has one year left to compete as a high-schooler in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), in which his younger brother, Gabe, also shoots.

Roberts finds NASP competition challenging, which helped him maintain his focus this spring while winning an individual state championship, and then helping his team win a high-school national championship.

In fifth grade, Chase fell in love with archery because it allowed him to enjoy the outdoors and compete with his older brothers who also shot tournament archery. Photo: Jennifer Roberts

In fifth grade, Chase fell in love with archery because it allowed him to enjoy the outdoors and compete with his older brothers who also shot tournament archery. Photo: Jennifer Roberts

“I was standing at the line, ready to shoot my last arrow to win the state championship of Alabama, and knew at least two other competitors who would shoot after me were good enough to beat me,” Roberts said. “I had to forget about everything except focusing on the target, my draw and my shot sequence, and getting a clean release.

“In our competition, we shot instinctively with fingers, instead of using a mechanical release. I had to remember to not release the string with my fingers, to allow the bow to pull the string off all three fingers at the same time, and to keep my form until after the arrow hit the target. The arrow hit the 10 ring in the center of the target, and I became Alabama’s state champion. My friend Zach Smith took second place.”

Chase loves to shoot archery and recently started shooting 3-D archery. He has also worked in chicken houses since he was 15. He washes the feed trays for the chicks, uses a weed-eater to cut grass near the chicken houses, and does anything else the chicken farmer requires. He works about 20 hours a week at the chicken farm during school and three to five days a week in the summer.

A rising, 17-year-old senior in high school this year, Chase has one more year to compete as a high school athlete in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Photo: Becky Staples

A rising, 17-year-old senior in high school this year, Chase has one more year to compete as a high school athlete in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Photo: Becky Staples

Jennifer and Brian Roberts, Chase’s parents, take pride in Chase and all his hard work. They also see how hard he works to overcome archery’s challenges.

“When Chase went to high school he started having problems with his shooting, because he grew 3 to 4 inches and put on 20 pounds in a year,” Jennifer said. “So, he had to modify the way he was shooting his bow to adjust to changes in his body. He had to work very hard to get his form and shooting abilities back. But he loved archery so much, he kept on persevering and eventually became a great shooter again.”

Chase and his archery team at Ashville High School in Ashville, Alabama, have collected two national championship rings. Photo: Becky Staples

Chase and his archery team at Ashville High School in Ashville, Alabama, have collected two national championship rings. Photo: Becky Staples

Overcoming such problems requires disciplined, regular practice. “Our high school team practices five days per week during the school year,” Roberts said. “When we’re getting ready to go to a competition, we also practice on Saturdays and Sundays. My boss at the chicken farm has worked with me, so I have time to practice intensively and to go to tournaments. I generally don’t go to work at the chicken houses until after archery practice. But if we have a lot of work to do at the chicken houses, and I’m really needed, I’ll alternate days between work and archery practice. However, when school’s happening during daylight saving time, I’ll leave archery practice and go to work in the chicken houses until dark, about 8 p.m.”

Chase balances archery and school with working at a chicken farm 20 hours per week. His home in north Alabama is one of the major chicken-producing areas in the nation. Photo: Becky Staples

Chase balances archery and school with working at a chicken farm 20 hours per week. His home in north Alabama is one of the major chicken-producing areas in the nation. Photo: Becky Staples

Besides his love of archery and practicing with his team, Roberts said practicing and shooting with Zach Smith, his best friend and high-school teammate, inspires him to work and practice hard to become a better shooter. In every competition they’ve shot in, Roberts and Smith are seldom separated by more than a point or two.

They always shoot better when competing against each other. They’ll often hang out on weekends at each other’s houses, and shoot each morning for practice. “The great thing about Zach’s house is that he has an indoor archery range in his basement,” Roberts said. “Then we can practice even in bad weather.”

Chase is ranked No. 7 in the U.S. in his age group in tournament archery and won two gold medals in South Africa while shooting with his U.S. National All-Star Team. Photo: Becky Staples

Chase is ranked No. 7 in the U.S. in his age group in tournament archery and won two gold medals in South Africa while shooting with his U.S. National All-Star Team. Photo: Becky Staples

And all that practice and competition keeps paying off. After Roberts took seventh nationally in the high school division at the NASP Championships this spring in Louisville, Kentucky, his school’s principal learned that he had been selected for the U.S. National All Star Team. Not only that, but he would get to compete with other high-school archers for the World All-Star Championship in Drakensburg, South Africa.

Chase’s school, hometown and county – as well as individuals and companies –immediately started raising money so he and his mother could make the trip. They held raffles, sold T-shirts and launched a GoFundMe account.

Once in South Africa, Roberts – who had never flown before – competed for the U.S. team against Canada, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Republic of South Africa, with each country fielding a 16-archer team. They shot two types of tournaments – 3-D with targets at unknown distances, and bull’s-eye targets like those used by NASP.

“Our U.S. team won gold medals in both kinds of shoots,” Roberts said. “I was so proud of all of us; how hard everyone worked to reach that world level of competition, and how well we represented the U.S. I plan to always shoot archery.”

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