Hayden Cardwell, a 14 year-old rising sophomore at McMichael High School, won an Archery Shooters Association (ASA) state championship in 3D competition at Sage Creek in Mt. Airy on July 7. The Sage Creek Archery Range is considered by many hunting enthusiasts as one of the premiere training facilities in the southeastern United States.
The ASA competition was divided into various categories according to age group and range with Cardwell finishing with the highest score of any of the other high school students he faced.
An avid outdoorsman, Cardwell hunts primarily deer, turkey and squirrels and is looking forward to a planned Elk hunting trip using his customized Mathews Triax bow in the future.
“I like bow hunting because I think it gives a lot more of a challenge because the animal has to be in a lot closer before you can take a shot and you have to be a lot more quite and everything. It takes a lot of patience,” he said.
Hunting is a family tradition in the Cardwell family and it is something the prodigy has come to embrace.
“My grandpa was a big hunter and he passed it down to my dad and he taught me. I shot my first deer when I was 7 with a cross bow and then I picked up bow hunting about three years ago and really started to enjoy that. Just this year, I started shooting 3D archery and really started to enjoy that too,” he said.
Cardwell hones his craft at Boneyard Archery in Madison, which is where he qualified for the state-wide event at the regional’s in the weeks prior to the Sage Creek competition.
He has competed and practiced at Boneyard with a group of his high school classmates and is a member of the S3DA team, which is Scholastic 3D Archery group.
“As far as his shooting, he does very well. He listens very well. He comprehends exceptionally well and then his application is very good. He also does a good job as far as mentoring some of the other kids on the team that are not quite as up on the sport as the way he is just because of the way he has been raised in hunting,” said Jonathon Brown, owner and operator of Boneyard.
Brown said he always enjoys not only teaching young people the intricacies of bow hunting, but also seeing young people embrace an outdoor lifestyle.
“Hayden he’s a good young man, no doubt. He’s definitely been raised right just as far as the way he handles himself and he’s a very respectful young man and he thinks a lot about other people,” Brown said.
A little over a year ago, Cardwell created his own Youtube channel called Get Outdoors with Hayden. It’s a show that focuses on hunting, fishing, bow hunting and the proper use of guns.
“I think it was last year, me and my dad were sitting around thinking about how we could get more young people interested in hunting and we decided to do a Youtube channel. We thought it would be fun to try to show kids how to enjoy the outdoors instead of staring at a screen and sitting around playing video games,” Cardwell said.
The show focuses on segments ranging from fishing, bows, guns and much more and he continues has a growing reputation as the site already has gained nearly 1,800 followers.
Brown said he thinks Cardwell has certainly learned many skills from his family, but also because of his constant desire to learn and better understand his craft.
“His dad I think works with Ruger if I’m not mistaken, so firearms and things of that nature and hunting is something that I think has been ingrained in him from a young age. Josh, his father is quite accomplished as well. When Hayden is here around the shop, he’s not afraid to ask a question. Whenever we give him an answer or we try to talk him through something. Like I said, he comprehends very well and his communication back is exceptional,” said Brown.
It’s still some time off, but Cardwell is already planning for the future. He said he hopes to go to N.C. State and pursue a degree in engineering after high school graduation.