The power of cheese helps Itineris student hit the bullseyeFeb 23, 2022 07:53PM ● By Greg James
Itineris Early College High School junior Dawson Whitehead shoots at the Las Vegas 2022 shoot where hit took 64th place. (Photos courtesy of Cindy Whitehead.)
Itineris Early College Early College High School in West Jordan is home to a recognized competitive archer, Dawson Whitehead.
“He really just found an interest in archery by completing a Scouting merit badge,” Dawson’s mother, Cindy Whitehead, said. “We just went as a family and tried it out, and he just took to it.”
Dawson is a junior at Itineris and has been shooting competitively for about four years. He recently placed 64th out of nearly 3,000 competitors at the Las Vegas 2022 shoot.
“He has been shooting basic, intermediate and competitions at Easton,” Whitehead said.
Easton Salt Lake Archery Center is in Salt Lake City near the airport. It hosts indoor and outdoor competitions and shooting classes. It is one of three world-class facilities in the country. It has an archery library and museum at the facility.
As a beginning shooter, Dawson was allowed to borrow and rent equipment. As he progressed and became better, he was encouraged to purchase his own bow.
“His bow is around $900 and that is about average,” Whitehead said. “Competition bows can be $1,000-plus. That does not include arrows, sights, and other equipment you need. He has worked to earn the money for his equipment. At a tournament a few weeks ago, we discovered that he needs to get more equipment to help him become better.”
As a competitive archer, Dawson practices two to three times a week. Programs such as Junior Olympic Archery Development offer opportunities for archers to learn range safety and proper shooting technique.
Dawson placed first in his division at the Archery Center Momentum shoot. He shot 513/600 in his two-round contest.
“It is amazing to see him do well,” Whitehead said. “I am happy to see him doing something. When he decided he wanted to compete, he began researching his bow; he researched all his equipment. He figured out what was best and made the decision of what he wanted to do. This is the best investment we have made for him. His confidence has increased; he dances and does things he would never do anywhere else.”
At tournaments, an archer shoots 30 arrows per round. The scoring rings on the target start with one point for the ring farthest from the center and progress to ten points in the center. In high-level events, the bull's eye scoring can be scored higher by getting closer to the center.
“It takes a lot of practice and patience,” Dawson said. “I use the sport as a stress relief. I take quite a few college courses in school. Shooting helps relax me.”
At a recent event, his shooting was off. His mother noticed he was having a hard time staying focused. They got him some cheese snacks that he ate in a break. Afterward, his shots become more on point. Superstitiously he has invested in the power of cheese to make him shoot better.
“We could tell he was getting hungry,” Whitehead said. “We gave him these cheese snacks, and he shot better. So, the power of cheese,”
There are clubs for young adult shooters. In his competition class, he is the only youth participating.
“I tell people it is fun,” he said. “It is great to relieve some stress.”
He is the son of Cindy and Jerry Whitehead and lives in West Jordan. He has two brothers and one sister.