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Take aim

BES archery team learns life-long skills

Posted: January 31, 2012 4:50 p.m.
Updated: February 1, 2012 5:00 a.m.
Miciah Bennett/C-I

Troy Miller (right), a parent-volunteer for the Blaney Elementary School Archery Club, helps a student with his alignment during the last club meeting. Fifty-two students made Blaney’s Archery Team this year; 15 are returning.

It’s ladies first at Blaney Elementary School’s (BES) Archery Club practice. BES physical education teacher Scott Lewis, the club and team’s director, said he not only teaches students the art of archery, but life-long social skills as well.

“Let’s play like champions today and let the force be with you,” Lewis said before the ladies leave the long row of fourth- and fifth-graders lined up against the gym wall.

After the girls get their bows, the boys grab theirs and they all line up 10 meters away from their targets. The shooting begins.

Eleven-year-old Hanna Wagner decided to “try it out” because her dad was into archery as a child. Like other students, Hanna thinks the club is ideal because, “you get to hang out with your friends and still practice archery.”

BES has 52 members on its archery team this year, including 15 returning team members. In competition, one team is made up of 24 students, so the school will take two teams to its first tournament. BES archery team members have competed in two state, two national and two world competitions since the school introduced the sport just three years ago. The team just planned on having fun during the first year of archery, until it realized there were tournaments available, Lewis said.

The goal of archery is to reach 300 points after shooting five arrows during each of three rounds that occur at 10- and 15-meter distances. The amount of “10s” scored break any ties, Lewis said.

The National Archery in the Schools Program, in which BES participates, began in Kentucky said Sgt. Dennetta Dawson, South Carolina’s state coordinator. South Carolina is the 20th state to adopt the program’s standards. The national program teaches the same methods with the same equipment in 48 states and six countries. This year, South Carolina will hold its seventh annual state tournament.

“The Department of Natural Resources sponsors the program because we want kids to get outdoors and realize that life isn’t just about video games,” Dawson said.

About 650 students, grades four to 12, participated in the state tournament last year. The sport attracts more elementary schools than middle and high schools, said Dawson, because elementary schools participate in fewer group sports. Leslie M. Stover and North Central middle schools each have a team.

Fifth-grader Walker Branham, 10, has been with the team all three years, but he has been “shooting” with his dad and his brother for longer. Despite his track record in archery and making it to the world tournament last year, Walker is still looking to make improvements.

“I want to work on my grouping this year,” said the fifth-grader.

The world championship is a unique thing, said Troy Miller, parent volunteer for the team.

Last year’s world tournament was held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla.

“There were teams from South Africa, Canada and New Zealand,” Miller said. 

A combination of 14 male and eight female students from Blaney went to the 2011 world tournament. Fifth-grader Shawn Phillips made the highest score of 273 for the males and Ashleigh Austin had the highest female score, 235.  

Sherra Scott is mother of archery team participant Brianna Scott, 11. It is Brianna’s second year on the team; she scored Blaney’s second highest female score of 230. Sherra Scott said the team “is excellent; she gets the team concept, but she gets the individual aspect, too.”

“You don’t have to be a jock to be on this team,” Scott said. “You can participate even if you are in a wheel chair.”

Lewis, who “usually sees mothers” more involved with the team, said the program is drawing dads to get more involved because of archery’s “rural connection to hunting.” Both Lewis and Miller have daughters on the team.

“I see a lot of good things come out of it family wise,” Lewis said.        


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