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It started around 1961, when Marilyn Venne was a newlywed.

“When I first got married, my husband (Clay) was golfing quite a bit and we were just looking for something to do as a family that we could afford,” she said. “Back in those days, you could buy a bow for 60 bucks and we just decided to try that.”

What the young couple tried was field archery. Some 58 years later, Venne is still at it and she ranks among the best in the country for her age.

The 76-year-old Venne recently won the Women’s Masters Senior Division Freestyle at the 2019 National Field Archery Association Indoor Nationals at Cincinnati. Aiming at a three-inch bullseye from 20 yards, Venne scored a 289 (out of 300) on the first day and a 286 the second day for a total of 575. She took 60 shots each day with each shot scoring a maximum of five points.

It was her second national championship in three years. Not too shabby for a grandmother of five and a great grandmother of one.

“It means a lot,” said Venne, who won the competition by 53 points. “I’ve been shooting for a long time and competing for a long time.”

She has the hardware to show for her efforts. When asked about her awards, Venne said she has boxes of them, but only a select few of her trophies on our display in her home.

“I just keep the current ones out,” she said.

If Venne has a secret, it’s the repetition she has developed over the years with her technique.

“It’s really a mental game,” she said. “It’s doing the same thing every time. You have to be steady enough and follow through with it.”

Venne goes so far back with archery that Clay and her used to push their son, Mark, through the range in his stroller. After all these years, she concedes that she only has so many quality shots left.

“Every year, I think it’s my last year,” she said. “It’s getting harder and harder. It’s just the endurance of it and, of course, I feel that I have some arthritis. It’s getting physically challenging, that’s all.”

But Venne is still a champion after all these years.

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