Wisconsin pro Emily McCarthy is one of the top female competitors in unknown-distance 3D archery. To play that game at the highest level, she not only has to shoot her bow really well but also has to be accurate at judging the distance to targets. The best archer in the world won’t win in unknown 3D if he or she can’t judge distance, but being able to estimate yardage means nothing if the archer can’t shoot a bow worth a lick. This is a dual-skill game, and McCarthy is so good at both shooting and judging that she consistently ends up on the podium at national ASA and IBO tournaments.
McCarthy finished second and third in two of the first three ASA tournaments of 2022, after winning three of the six ASA events and one of four IBO tournaments in 2021. So what did this champion archer carry in her bow case for a tournament like the ASA’s 2022 Easton/Hoyt Pro/Am at Camp Minden, Louisiana, April 21-24?
For starters, her case is a soft-sided Elevation case. McCarthy opts for a soft case when she and her husband, Dan McCarthy, drive to tournaments — which they did to Camp Minden — but will switch to a hard case when they fly. Interestingly, she breaks down her bow and stows everything in her case at the end of every tournament day, even if she is only traveling from the shooting venue to a hotel. She doesn’t want to risk having a string rub against anything and get damaged.
Inside the case’s main compartment, McCarthy stores her Mathews TRX 36, to which she leaves her Axcel Achieve XP sight and LP digital light kit attached. In the largest outer compartment, she stows a long plastic box that holds her Black Eagle arrows. The hard case keeps her arrows divided and protected.
In adjacent pockets she keeps two sets of stabilizers. McCarthy runs a 30-inch-long front stabilizer and two 12-inch side rods connected to a V-bar mounted on the rear of her bow. One stabilizer set is composed of all Conquest Smacdown .747 rods, while the other features three Smacdown .500 Pro bars. In windy conditions, McCarthy chooses the skinny .500 rods. If it’s not windy outside or if she’s shooting indoors, McCarthy goes with the fatter .747 bars.
Another outer pouch holds her binoculars, a rangefinder — just for practice times — and her bow pod. A final pocket holds arrow wipes, a compression sleeve and a D-loop measuring device. The latter is a triangular piece of plastic McCarthy uses to measure out D-loop rope to get an exact length before cutting it to create her preferred D-loop size.
In that pocket, McCarthy also keeps what might be the most prized item in her bow case: a 32-ounce Hydro Flask.
“It goes everywhere with me,” she said. The bottle is covered with stickers acquired at different places McCarthy has visited, such as the National Bison Range and Flathead Lake, both in Montana. One year the bottle disappeared while McCarthy was competing at a tournament in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I had to buy it back from a janitor because I left it and he stole it,” she said with a laugh. “I asked him if he had it and he said, ‘No.’ So I said, ‘If I give you 20 bucks, do you have it?’ And he said, ‘I’ll be right back.’
“He came right out of the maintenance room with it.”
McCarthy’s bow case is best described as neat and tidy, with just the necessities. Plus one distinctive water bottle.