Autumn Pavlik Keeps Her Eye in Focus

Autumn Pavlik works to improve in both archery and trap shooting on the local and national level.

Autumn Pavlik in a shooting stance as she targets the hay bale for her school picture.

Kimberly Pavlik

Autumn Pavlik in a shooting stance as she targets the hay bale for her school picture.

Ever since Autumn was young, she remembers watching her dad shoot and hunt. He never forced her to like it, but she has always had an interest, even since the time she was able to shoot. At four years old, Autumn started with a little pink .22 rifle and a recurve bow with suction cup arrows. No matter where her dad went, she was right behind him. Whether it was the range, the woods, or fields, she was always there.

Throughout Autumn’s shooting experiences, her dad has always helped her the most. He never hesitated to help her, whether it was in shooting or hunting, or constantly taking Autumn out to the range.

“My dad has helped me the most with shooting because he is the person who has always provided me with the skills and knowledge to become a good shooter. He has always motivated me to practice and has always helped me by building archery targets and ranges in the yard, as well as a little .22 range, and a target box to shoot into for air rifle,” said Autumn.

 Mr. Pavlik is always researching the best techniques and combinations for shooting to help Autumn improve. He has taught Autumn everything she knows today about shooting, hunting, and how to be a good sportsman.

Her mom shoots archery with them, and her sister also competes and hunts with her. Both of Autumn’s parents are supportive and proud of her and her sister in the sport which is unique to females. Hunting brings them all together. Autumn and her sister primarily hunt with their dad, but their mom is always checking up on them and cooking their game. 

 Autumn didn’t start competing in shooting sports until she was 12 years old. She started in 4-H, competing in archery, trap, .22 rifle, and air rifle. From there, her love for shooting blossomed. Shooting sports led Autumn to meet new friends, coaches, and have new experiences she never expected. 

From 4-H, she joined Junior Olympic Archery Development to expand her competition in archery where her shooting skills developed and increased. 

Autumn Pavlik practicing her archery skills. (Kimberly Pavlik)

Autumn shoots an Olympic recurve bow, which requires more practice than a typical compound bow. With a lot of determination and dedication, Autumn started to practice archery every day. In the spring and summer, Autumn shoots outside at least 100 arrows to work on her form. 

If the weather is bad, Autumn will practice archery and air rifle in her basement. For archery, her dad has a bag target set up in his workroom. Autumn stands on one end of the basement and shoots through the doorway into his room where the bag is which is averages around 15 yards. For air rifle, she lays a shooting mat down on the floor and sets up a target box that her dad made for her. She puts the box on the other side of the basement and shoots into it. Since air rifles aren’t loud, shooting indoors is not a problem. No matter what, Autumn is always practicing.

In her first year in JOAD, she increased many merit levels and went to the state shoot in Harrisburg, PA. Autumn did not place within the first 5, but that only made her want to practice more. In her last JOAD season, Autumn merited up to yellow, which is scoring a 265/300 or higher in points. Her state shoot was supposed to be on March 21, 2020, but got delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions and was postponed to April 18. Covid restrictions were still enforced by the time it was April, but in June, she finally got to compete. 

Autumn ended up winning first in female recurve in the state of Pennsylvania, as well as winning first place in the merit group and Olympic round. Autumn couldn’t have been any happier that my hard work and practice paid off.

As for rifle shooting, Autumn has won first place every year she has competed in the 4-H. She also practices air rifle and .22 every day from May to August in preparation for the competition. She practices shooting in the prone, kneeling, and standing positions. As the summer went on, Autumn could tell the difference in her shooting. Her form is better, her shots are a lot better, and she can shoot for longer periods of time.

Last spring, Greater Latrobe started a high school trap team. In this sport, you shoot at moving clay targets with a shotgun. Autumn was so excited to hear that the school was starting trap shooting. 

Due to covid, the Latrobe trap team was unable to compete in states over the summer. With the program they use though, they were still able to see their teams ranking across the state for the various categories. For most of the categories, Greater Latrobe ranked first place. They have a great team and Autumn hopes they can compete in states and possibly nationals in the summer of 2021. 

The individuals on the team score for 5 weeks, shooting 3 rounds of 25. Two of those rounds get scored and sent into a program that ranks them across the state. At the end of the season, Autumn ended up with a 23.5 average out of a perfect 25 and ended up placing first in one of the female divisions in the state. 

She also won second place overall for female trap shooters in Pennsylvania. Autumn practices trap at least once a week, so she was so happy to have done well in her first year competing for the school. Due to covid-19 restrictions, the national shoot was canceled. Hopefully, by the next spring season, nationals will open up again and Autumn can compete, as well as the entire team. 

“Shooting has taught me very important skills like patience, determination, confidence, and it has shown me that practice does make perfect and helps you become a better version of yourself,” said Autumn.

Autumn doesn’t know what she would do without shooting and hunting in her life. It is something she has always done and plan on doing for the rest of her life. It has introduced her to new friends, people, and experiences that have made a lasting impact on her.