CONNOQUENESSING TWP — Hannah and Max Blaine were born 10 years apart.
Through archery, the siblings and Connoquenessing Township residents have stayed close together.
The Blaines recently returned from the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, where they competed for and won Pennsylvania State Archery Association championships.
“My brother and I are very close,” Hannah, 20, said. “We practice, shoot and hunt together.
“I've won state and regional titles before. For Max to do what he did was pretty amazing.”
Hannah Blaine won the Women's Unlimited Class A state title while Max, 10, won the pre-cadet crown, shooting at targets from 20 yards away for the first time.
Archers receive their target assignments at the site of competition. They get to shoot two practice rounds of three arrows each before embarking upon 20 rounds of competition, again shooting three arrows with each round.
The Blaines learned archery and compete in leagues at Shooter's Showcase, near Slippery Rock.
“The (Shooter's Showcase) youth league shoots from 10 yards out,” Hannah said. “We weren't sure what to expect with Max shooting from 20 yards away, but he was phenomenal.”
Max was so accurate that he shot a “RobinHood” into the bulls-eye — where one arrow shot lands directly into the rear of another one already in the target, splitting the arrow in two.
Shooter's Showcase took a team of 54 archers to Harrisburg and won numerous individual and team awards. Facility owners Dave and Jennifer McMillin won the husband-wife title and were Senior Unlimited champions.
Shooter's also won team titles in Men's Unlimited, Women's Unlimited and Intermediate Male Unlimited.
“There's a long list of them,” Shooter's employee and archer Glen Hickok said of the state titles. “We've got more than 50 kids in our youth league.”
Frank Blaine, Hannah and Max's father and an archer himself, credits Hickok and the McMillins for his children's success in the sport.
“The work they do with kids over there has made a big difference in the shooting,” Blaine said. “They've been prepared to compete at the level they're at.”
His daughter agreed.
“They've taught me more things than I could possibly take in,” she said.
Hannah and Max both got started in archery at age 8.
“They are naturally talented at this,” Blaine said.
Archery has become a family tradition. Tom Paff, the kids' grandfather, was an archer and died in 2005, shortly after watching Hannah win her first youth competition.
“My dad has helped me through everything in archery,” Hannah said. “I wouldn't know how to shoot without him.
“When we compete together, we look at each other and say 'make it count.' He's my rock in this. And I remember my grandfather watching me compete ... I know he's still watching.”
Between indoor and outdoor season, the archery schedule runs all year. The Blaines are at Shooter's Showcase three days a week and they practice in their backyard for hours at a time.
Now Max owns a state title and Hannah's won a bevy of championships.
“It never gets old,” Hannah said of winning. “The tournaments are always difficult and you're always competing against a different group of people.”
And the Blaines always stay together.
“That's what I like best about it,” Melissa Blaine, their mother, said. “Archery has been a nice way of bonding our family together.”