One of the Country’s Top Young Archers Calls Oakland, New Jersey Home

By Steve Sears

For 18-year-old Kevin Klinedinst, his introduction to the sport of archery all started when he first went bow hunting in New York state.

After getting his hunting license at age 12, he went out looking for deer and, since it was the bow hunting season of October and November, carried a bow and arrow. He missed his first buck by two feet, but he was fascinated aiming at a target and trying to get closer. “Since I became such a big bow hunter after about two years of just practicing in my backyard, and going into ranges and doing fun 3D shoots where you shoot at the fake animals, I kind of realized I wanted to do a little bit more with it, so then I started doing some competitions,” Klinedinst says.

Klinedinst, a recent Indian Hills High School graduate who is now attending Ramapo College, in late July took part in the Buckeye Classic in Ohio, an outdoor national archery competition where he placed sixth. He was the highest placed finisher from New Jersey, and he competed as a member of Team USA Hornets, the national archery team.

Those before-mentioned competitions took place in 2017 when he was 14-years-old, and it was a beginning that has led to his becoming one of the top young archers in the nation. “My shooting was kind of rigid,” he says of his early days competing. “It obviously wasn’t the best, but I didn’t care actually. I know a lot of people want to shoot competitively but can’t shoot their bow that well, and they don’t go to these competitions. And the only thing I can say is you’re not going to do any better. You can shoot as well as you want in your backyard, but now that you have to step up in front of people and score in front of people, it brings down your score a lot.” For Klinedinst, all of it was a learning experience, but he didn’t give up. He recalls one competition in Pennsylvania. “I remember walking into the stadium and seeing just a ton of people, so I stepped up, and there was a lot of arrows going, and shot the best I could. By the time the competition was over, I went up to my dad, and I had forgotten to check my score. I said, ‘That was fun, I want to do it again.’ He then asked me about my score, and I just completely forgot. I went to check it, and it wasn’t bad. I was impressed with myself. It was the first time (shooting an arrow in competition), and it was kind of a spark. That showed me what this is all about, and I really wanted to do it.”

Much of his free time was now being spent on the archery range, improving his skills, and eventually his scores in competition against the best at his age. And then, one day in 2020 while he was turkey hunting, he looked down at his phone and saw that he gotten a message from the USA Olympic Archery coach. “I was just around 16 or 17 at the time, so I had been shooting competitively (at a paper target) for a little while and had been winning, so my name was out there a lot. I was winning at all the regionals.” In fact, he had taken first place at the regionals at WA-XO-BE Archers in Monmouth Junction. The Olympic coach asked him to fly down to their headquarters, which was at the Archery Learning Center in Snellville, Georgia. “I got down there, and the coach and a bunch of teammates were just standing there waiting for me to walk through the gate. Then the owner of one of the biggest archery companies in the world walked in, and he knew I was going to be there, and he came to meet me. It was mind blowing.” 

And after training for a week, he learned he’d earned a spot on the Team USA Hornets national team. With the Hornets, Klinedinst has traveled to Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, Kentucky, Arizona, Florida, and California, all prior to his Ohio competition. 

For Klinedinst, who trains in New Jersey primarily at Lincoln Park Archers in Montville (“The whole community there is fantastic,” he says), his eyes are on possible Olympic and also future World Cup competitions.

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