All of the familiar sounds of an archery competition could be heard at Miramar Regional Park range. The whistles and commands calling for competitors to step up to the shooting line. The draws of hundreds of bows, followed by the twang of their release. The slamming of arrows into bullseyes. It was World Archery Day, and also the first day of shooting at the 2022 National Senior Games.
But among these sounds was the voice of LuAnn Walker, 73, a proud fan with a beaming smile, simultaneously cheering on her husband, Ronald Walker, and their daughter, Jill Wiedner.
“It’s so good. I just enjoy it. I’m proud of them,” LuAnn Walker said.
For the Walkers, archery is more than just a sport. It’s a tradition spanning several generations, creating a legacy of success and priceless family memories learning to shoot together.
“My dad got us started back in 1952. They started legalized deer hunting in Pennsylvania for bow and arrow, so that’s how he got into it,” Ronald Walker, 77, said. “From there he got into tournament archery, and he just coached me into doing it.”
The coaching paid off, as Walker turned professional, and went on to win a state championship in Pennsylvania, just like his father. But rather than reflect on past tournament wins, both Ronald and LuAnn light up at the chance to speak about their daughter, Jill, shooting just a few targets down from them.
“I got my daughter started into it when she was about eight years old,” Ronald said. “He made Jill learn with a stick bow, nothing but a stick bow in her fingers!” LuAnn chimed in.
“I just watched her. She picked it up. I knew the things you needed to do to hit the target. And I watched her and if she’s doing something wrong, I straightened her out on it,” Ronald said.
“And now she tells him what he’s doing wrong!” LuAnn said. “She beats me now,” Ronald nodded.
Although she had been shooting since she was a teenager, 2022 marked Jill Wiedner’s first National Senior Games appearance, thanks once again to her father.
“Well, I got started with my dad,” Wiedner, 53, said. “And I’m here with him today, [because] he’s like ‘I think you’re old enough to be a senior,’ and I said ‘No, I’m not,’…but I am,” Wiedner laughed.
As the competitors swapped places, LuAnn Walker witnessed an exchange between her husband and daughter.
“She said she needs her dad, and then he said he needs his daughter,” LuAnn Walker shared.
“Yeah,” Ronald agreed. “Because she sees me doing something wrong, she knows what to do. She’ll tell me. I see her doing a little something wrong, I tell her. She’ll shoot a shot and she thinks it should be in, but it’s somewhere else, and then we go through what you possibly could have done wrong to make it miss, and we come up together.”
“She had a whole list that she texted him what to make sure he doesn’t do and what he does do!” Luann exclaimed.
Ronald Walker finished 4th in his age group of the men’s compound release competition, while his daughter Jill won the silver medal in the women’s 50-54 competition. Another medal for the family collection, and yet another shared experience that brought their family closer together.
“It’s so cool. That’s all I can say,” Wiedner said. “It’s awesome and cool and I’m glad I get to experience that with him. It’s our time together, and we were really looking forward to this trip.”
“It’s been good,” Ronald said. “We’ve had a lot of fun, seeing a lot of country together because of archery, as a family. We had good times, lots of good times.”
The good times will continue, as a fourth generation in the Walker lineage has recently started shooting. LuAnn and Ronald expressed their excitement to be coaching their granddaughter in archery, and spending more time together as family because of the sport.
This article is featured in the August 2022 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.