Joella Bates, Wonder Woman of Archery, visits Louisiana

Courtesy Photo -- Nationally known archery expert, Joella Bates, was in Jonesboro earlier this week working with youngsters to improve their archery skills.



Four years ago, the Southeastern Outdoor Writer’s Association held its annual conference in Eufaula, Alabama. As I drove into town, I stopped at Subway for a sandwich before heading to headquarters for conference registration.

While ordering my meal, I noticed a lady dressed in camo who had walked in. I nodded, spoke to her and asked if she was here for SEOPA conference. She said she was, I introduced myself and invited her to sit with me for lunch.

Little did I know at this chance meeting I was visiting with a national celebrity well known in the field of archery competition. Her name is Joella Bates and since that meeting, I have followed her fascinating career.

I learned that since taking up archery in 1989, Joella has taken 80 species of wild game with her bow. She is the first female bow hunter to take a Cape Buffalo and she has also added to her bow hunting resume a wild turkey Grand Slam. Most significant is the fact that she was the first bow hunter, male or female, to take the Africa “Big Five” in a single 30-day safari.

Joella is best known today as the originator and CEO of Jo-Camps (, an organization that teaches youngsters around the nation to shoot a bow.

Some quotes from parents and participants in Jo-Camps include “pure awesome;” “she has a special way of teaching archery;” “she has years of experience and a heart for others;" and “she has a passion for teaching and helping others.”

Last week, Joella who makes her home in Tennessee, visited south Louisiana holding one of her Jo-Camps in Houma. The next day, she was in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for a camp and on Thursday, March 14, she was in Jonesboro helping Jackson Parish kids perfect their archery skills.