SLO County archer to compete with Team USA in World Cup

A star archer from San Luis Obispo County is gearing up to compete on the international stage for the first time.

Bella Otter, a Cuesta College student from Atascadero, will represent Team USA at the Youth and Masters Pan American Championships, running May 30 through June 5 in Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The 19-year-old has also been invited to participate in Stage 3 of this year Archery World Cup, to be held June 21 through 26 in Paris, as a member of the American compound women’s archery team.

“For a compound archer where the Olympics aren’t an option, the World Cup is the highest invitation,” Otter told The Tribune.

Otter has previously competed in contests across the country, rising up the ranks to become one of the nation’s best female archers in her shooting category.

She received her invitation to the World Cup from USA Archery via email. “I must have read the email 50 times,” Otter said.

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Bella Otter, a Cuesta College student of Atascadero, is competing in high level international events in her sport, including the World Cup in France in June and the Pan American Championships in Canada at the end of May. Courtesy Bella Otter

“On the one hand, it seems crazy because it happened so fast,” Otter said. “But on the other hand, I’ve been shooting for about 10 years and so I know that there’s been a lot of preparation to get to this point.”

Otter said that her Paris trip is being funded by the USA Archery team, which is “really, really nice.”

“That is not the case with the trip to Nova Scotia, though, and that falls on my shoulders.” she said.

To pay her way, Otter established a GoFundMe fundraising campaign, Go, Flight, Win: Getting Bella to Nova Scotia. She had raised more than $ 1,600 toward her $ 4,000 goal as of Tuesday morning.

SLO County archer to compete at World Cup

Otter is one of only three women competing in the compound archery category in Nova Scotia in her age division.

She’s one of four US women heading to Paris to compete in the World Cup, joining three professionals who are older than her. There are no age divisions in that event.

“There are hundreds of super qualified compound women shooters in the US who compete in tournament circuits,” Otter said. “Whoever ends up doing well, time and time again at those circuits, stands out.”

She’s not the only young standout archer from San Luis Obispo County.

Judith Gottlieb, a freshman at Columbia University’s Barnard College who grew up in San Luis Obispo, was ranked in the Top 10 nationally as a teen between 14 and 17 as a recurve archer. She’ll compete at the Maccabi Games in Israel in July.

Recurve bow archery, an Olympic sport, resembles the type of equipment a hunter shoots, with limbs curving away from the archer and increasing tension as the archer draws the arrow back.

Compound bow shooting – Otter’s competitive focus – uses a levering system of cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. The draw tension is comparably light and easy.

Otter said her improvement to reach the highest levels of her sport has come from developing the mental aspects of shooting, along with competition experience and dedication to practicing.

Otter, an instructor at Central Coast Archery, called the sport a “really cool community with a great bunch of folks.”

“I think mentally I’ve progressed a lot just because I’ve had so many more experiences, and I think these (international) experiences to come are going to be some of the most incredible ones yet,” Otter said.

This story was originally published May 24, 2022 1:04 PM.

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and Los Osos, as well as sports. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.

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