For this month’s Pro-Staff Spotlight, we had the chance to sit down with 60x pro-staffer Jillian Ballengee.
At 19 years old, the Parkersburg, West Virginia native is already quite an accomplished archer. She’s won four individual collegiate national championships in her first four semesters in college. In addition, she’s a multiple time All-American recipient. And she’s achieved all this while working on a double major in accounting and business management.
When the impressive college sophomore isn’t shooting the collegiate circuit, she also shoots as a professional at NFAA events, and as a semi-pro at ASA events.
Here’s what Jillian had to say when we sat down to chat with her:
How did you get involved in archery?
I started shooting archery because it was something that my dad and brother were very active in, and I saw it as something that we could all do together. I got started back when I was in eighth grade. At the time I was already a three-sport athlete. I ultimately gave up the other sports to devote all my time to archery.
How long have you been shooting?
I shot my first bow about seven years ago. I’ve been competing on the national circuits for about five years, and this is my second year shooting the collegiate circuit.
What do you like to do when you’re not shooting?
When I’m not shooting I love to kayak, musky fish, hunt, and just be outdoors in general.
Indoor or outdoor archery?
I like shooting indoors much more than outdoors.
When I do shoot outdoors, my least favorite target would have to be the leopard target! There are just way too many spots on the target and it makes it very hard to aim on, especially if you are one of the first ones to shoot it.
I don’t have a single favorite competitor, but my favorite ladies to compete against would have to be my K-45 ladies in the ASA. This will be my third year shooting the class and they are some of the nicest, most encouraging people that I compete with. Instead of being cut-throat like some other divisions, they just want to see everyone succeed and do their best. They have helped me grow so much as an archer and I don’t know what I would do without many of them.
Funniest travel story?
When I was younger and my older brother still competed, we were travelling to a shoot with my dad and I had been asleep in the back seat. They decided to stop at a Sheetz gas station and they never saw me get out of the car. When I came out of the gas station they were pulling off without me because they thought I was still asleep in the back seat.
Best place to eat while traveling?
The best place to eat while travelling would have to be Texas Roadhouse just because I’m a steakhouse type of person. They are widely known, and it’s just a very safe bet in general. I am not the type of person who likes to try new foods, so it’s a place I can count on to have something I like.
Favorite archery moment of all time?
My favorite archery memory of all time would have to be when I shot my first 300-60x on a five-spot face. It was a time when I was dealing with a lot of negative people that tried to make me believe that I couldn’t go anywhere in archery or that I would never be good enough to make a name for myself in the archery community. When I shot my first perfect round it really motivated me to continue and prove everyone wrong, it gave me the confidence to know that I really could be competitive and that I stood a chance.
Favorite sport other than archery?
I don't really pay attention to any other sports.
My greatest accomplishment so far would have to be the very first year I shot NFAA indoor nationals back in 2015. I was only 16 years old and I competed in the adult female freestyle division. It was my first time officially competing as an adult and I won the tournament as the youngest competitor in the division. Since then I have won it again and taken second.
Most annoying thing about you?
I’d have to say that the most annoying thing about me is how in-the-zone I can get at archery tournaments. I try to be very focused on the tournament rather than socializing a lot. I’m known to not talk much and that sometimes gets taken the wrong way by people.
Last person who made you nervous?
The last person who made me nervous would have to be Tanja Jenson in the final elimination matches at the Lancaster classic this year.
My favorite music would have to be nineties country. I like just about all country music, but I am not big into the pop sounding types.
My proudest moment would have to be my collegiate accomplishments from my freshman year of college. It was the first year that I was away from my dad archery-wise, and I had to learn to do a lot on my own because he wasn’t there to remind me about what I was doing. Up until then he would always be standing right behind me, helping me mainly with my mental game. In my second semester of college I got to be a part of the gold medal shoot off for the USCA intercollegiate indoor national championship. It took place out on the arena floor before the World Cup matches. I had never shot in front of so many people before and it was just a crazy experience. I ended up winning the match in the end and shooting a very respectable score. This is my proudest moment because it proved to me that I was able to be a competitive shooter even without my dad being right there with me. It was my first big indoor win on my own.
Got any tattoos?
I don’t currently have any tattoos.
Words to live by?
“If winning isn’t everything then why do they keep score?”
My favorite quote is from Vince Lombardi. It’s one that has motivated me from the very beginning since I was just another girl in the female youth division who struggled to ever make a podium finish. It helped put me in the mindset of wanting to win and wanting to be able to go out and start making it onto the podium consistently.
Coolest thing about competing in archery tournaments?
The coolest thing to me is the people you meet that have the potential to make an impact on your life in ways you might never imagine. The archery industry is one that relies heavily on connections. All it takes is that one person to help you get your foot in the door to ultimately launch your career. You never know who you might impress or who you might meet that can help you do things that you never though you would be able to do. You also make so many friendships with the people you meet. I never thought I would have so many friends that live so far away from me. I’ve made some lifelong friends that I don’t know what I would do without.
Favorite tournament venue?
My favorite tournament venue would have to be Foley, Alabama for the ASA shoots. It’s my favorite because I had never seen the ocean until my first visit there last year. Going to the beach is an activity that I have never had time for because of my busy schedule, so it was definitely a cool thing to get to see. I can’t wait to be back there this year.
Advice for someone just getting started in archery?
My advice would be to never give up. It can be so frustrating at first and it can seem so easy to just give up. There were times when I first started that I wanted nothing more than to just quit and never shoot a bow again. At times, archery was the last thing that I wanted to be doing or thinking about. But if I would have quit back then, I would have missed out on so many opportunities that I would never have even come close to if it weren’t for archery. It has taken me so many places and given me opportunities for college that I never imagined having back then. If you persevere and keep going, you will be amazed at what can happen.
Current Equipment choices:
- 60x Custom Strings
- Elite archery
- Leupold Optics