GRAPEVINE, Texas – The Outdoor Education class in the Junior High at Faith has qualified two archery teams for the state competition on March 6. This is the first year Faith has had an archery program, and the students shoot three times a week during fifth and sixth periods. In an attempt to gauge just how talented these students are, I joined archery class for a week and soon embarrassed myself.
The students are a part of the National Archery in the Schools Program, which boasts around 2,300,000 students. For competitions, the shooters get a warm-up round of five arrows. The contest consists of three rounds of five arrows at 10 meters, followed by three rounds at 15 meters, and finally three more rounds again at 10 meters. Each round has a two-minute time limit, and everything is done on whistle commands.
There are commands for stepping up to the line, starting shooting, stepping back from the line, and retrieving arrows. These commands make the program extremely safe. So safe, in fact, that Coach Tommy Sugg, who teaches Outdoor Education, said, “The only thing safer than this in schools is ping pong.” With that in mind I stepped up to try just to hit the target, much less the bull’s eye.
The students were working on improving their high score as a class for shooting 30 arrows: 244 out of a possible 300 points. Sadly, I think I probably hurt their chances. On the first day that I was there, 8th grader Jared Greer put up the highest score with 46 out of 50 points. Coach Sugg’s highest score was 45, and mine? I proudly put up a score of 14 with two of my arrows missing the target altogether. This stuff was hard. “The hardest part for me is focusing,” 8th grader Haley Smith said, and her classmate Madeline Payne agreed that the pressure could get to you.
I had some work to do. I came back on Friday looking to have made some progress and at least have all of my arrows on target. We worked on partner shooting, with the best duo earning a prize. I teamed up with 8th grade student Ryan Chapman, and we came in a solid fifth place out of seven teams. My personal best on Friday — 24 points.
Archery was quite a fun experience. Chapman, my partner, said his favorite part is “hitting yellow”, or the center two rings on the target, and that 15 meter shooting was the most challenging. This information was reassuring, since all of my shots were from 15 meters. Payne, who got into archery because of The Hunger Games, said her favorite part is “laughing with friends when you miss.”
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