Callie Schroeder isn’t always sure where she’s going, but she knows where she wants to be.
Where she needs to be.
Perhaps that place is in Louisville, Ky., site of next month’s National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) national tournament. Based on her 296 score — out of a possible 300 — and overall championship performance at the Minnesota state tournament in late March, the New Prague ninth-grader could be considered a top national title contender.
Schroeder understands why she wears a contender’s tag. After all, in Kentucky — the birthplace of NASP and a state that embraces archery like Minnesota does hockey — this year’s girls’ state champion did no better than equal Schroeder’s state-title total.
But she’s not ready to embrace that label and the pressure that comes with it. It takes her too far away from that place she needs to be. And that place is not about pressure. It’s about fun.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure to do better than  at nationals,” she said. “The national is such a big tournament that [the mind-set] really is just shooting for fun.”
That sounds like Schroeder’s kind of place. A happy place. A pressure-free place. And, come to think of it, a place that she has had to create and not merely visit.
If she hadn’t learned that lesson before, the state tournament was a perfect classroom.
“I don’t like to look at the scores before I shoot because it kind of screws up my thinking,” she said.
“I overheard someone say the high score for a high school female was 294, and that was really nerve-racking. I took a couple of deep breaths and pretended I never heard it.”
There’s no room for worry and pressure in Schroeder’s happy place.
“When you’re happy, you shoot well,” she said. “I just made myself happy.”
And happy for Schroeder is “hanging out with friends” such as teammates Bella Schulte and Jeremy Schmid.
Her 296 score was five points higher than her previous best, set in winning the regional tournament three weeks earlier. The accomplishment was, indeed, born of more than attitude and outlook.
A near-miss at a state championship in the middle school division last year — she was only one point behind the winner — ignited her competitive fire, said Brian Schroeder, Callie’s father and the New Prague middle school team coach.
“This whole season she’s really ramped up,” Brian Schroeder said. “She’s put in a lot of time. She’s shooting at least three days a week besides the Thursday and Sunday practices.”
The proof of her dedication is in the results. In her first tournament this season, Schroeder shot a 273 and placed 10th among high school girls. She has won each tournament since.
Schroeder’s success is not a solitary accomplishment in New Prague, where the six-year-old program has grown from 32 kids to more than 160. The high school team placed third at the state meet behind St. Croix Prep and White Bear Lake. The middle school team unseated seven-time state champion Jackson Middle School of Champlin.
New Prague has sent archers to the national tournament in each of the past four years. That includes Logan Geer, who won a national title in the elementary boys’ division — 1,722 competitors strong — as a sixth-grader two years ago.
Geer shot a 294 and placed 15th overall and second among middle school boys at this year’s state tournament. His personal best is 297.
His younger brother Ryan, who shot a 281 and placed second among elementary school boys, is among a strong group of young Trojan shooters. Breanna Franek won the elementary girls’ title with a 284, and younger sister Britlynn shows similar promise.
Schroeder, meanwhile, would love to set a personal best in Louisville. But she’s not counting on it. Too much pressure.