Haley Johnson was looking for the right sport about the same time her physical education teacher introduced the class to archery.
Fast forward five years, and Johnson is perhaps the best archer at Conway High School and one of the top shooters in the entire state.
“In eighth grade my gym teacher let us practice and I loved it,” Johnson said. “It seemed to fit. It was one of the things I could do and it didn’t matter about my physical ability. I was 5-foot-3, and although I’m now 145 pounds, I used to be heavier. I’ve lost 50 pounds.”
Johnson was introduced to the sport about the same time that Jerry Williams was trying to start an archery program at Conway High School. She joined the team her freshman year at CHS, and ends her career as the number one shooter on the team.
According to Johnson, 300 is a perfect score in archery, and she has shot as high as 279 in practice. She came through with a score of 265 in the state tournament. She said getting better every year is what is most memorable and rewarding about her career.
“Whenever I first started I was shooting between 218 and 226,” she said. “That’s a 40 to 50-point improvement. From starting in the low 200s and going to the 260s and 270s, that’s incredible.”
The teen is a daughter of Buck and Karen Johnson, who have been supportive from day one.
“They’re at every single event,” she said.
She shared a bow with teammates until purchasing a bow of her own.
According to Johnson, there is little chance of being injured in archery, as long as the rules are followed.
“It is the second safest sport next to ping pong,” she said. “If you follow every single rule you can’t get hurt.”
Johnson isn’t sure why, but females seem to dominate the sport in South Carolina. While she is Conway’s top shooter, the top three shooters at the recent state tournament were also females. Johnson has noticed that the females seem to be friendlier and more supportive of each other while the males are more competitive.
“I don’t know why the girls are better,” she said. “The highest girl at the region was 20 points better than the highest boy.”
Although her high school career is over, Johnson plans to continue enjoying the sport at the Sand Dunes Archery Club.
Johnson is an active student at CHS, where she is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Key Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the National Math, Social Studies, English and Art honor societies.
“Certain things like history come very easy for me,” she said. “Some other things are very hard to understand.”
She said not doing as well as she thinks she should in class or on the archery court stresses her out. At the same time, competing in archery is very relaxing and enjoyable.
“I guess it’s the calm right before you release the arrow,” she said. “It’s quiet. There’s no screaming. It’s very peaceful. I try to remain calm and after I’m through with all of my arrows I can breathe a sigh of relief.”
Johnson has enjoyed her archery career at CHS, and encourages others to get involved in the sport.
“It’s been a great environment,” she said.
When she’s not competing or studying, Johnson enjoys reading and going to the movies. She has been accepted at Coastal Carolina University, where she plans to major in interdisciplinary studies before transferring to the University of South Carolina and majoring in library science. Her goal is to become a librarian.