The Pryor Times

February 8, 2014

Students practice for district tournament

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — With a district tournament just around the corner, Pryor's archery teams practiced until they were perfect.

“The National Archery in Schools Program started eight years ago nationwide, seven years ago for us. It is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and the National Turkey Federation,” elementary school archery coach Kelli Mills said. “This is Lincoln's first year to compete, Jefferson has been to nationals twice and qualified a third time.”

The students, fourth through sixth grade, competed in a district tournament Feb. 6 in Tulsa.

“This is something students of all kids can enjoy. We have both girls and boys, students that are naturally athletic and some that maybe aren't so athletic. It's a good equalizer,” said Mills, adding that movies such as “Brave” and “The Hunger Games” have played a role in boosting the number of girls interested in the sport.

While 48 kids in a room all carrying bows may sound chaotic, Mills accepts nothing less than maturity and focus.

“This is my son's first year and she's already taught him so much. They're very serious when they're here,” said one mother while waiting for her son at one of his weekly practices.

“My son hunts and fishes, so by the time he's old enough to bow hunt he'll be ready,” said another mother, who added that her son is looking forward to being on the junior high school team because it is an outdoor class.

The archers meet three days a week for an hour and a half. They have the option of purchasing their own bow or using one of the competition bows provided.

“They shoot a practice round at 10 meters and then three more rounds for score. Then the same at 15 meters. One practice and three for score. A perfect round is 50 (5 arrows times 10 possible). Three hundred would be a perfect overall score,” said Mills.

“This is a huge help with their math skills, they have to be able to get the correct score pretty quickly so the next person can shoot,” said a mom looking on as her daughter figured her score.

A few students got close to a perfect score during practice.

While students are practicing, Mills also uses the same whistle commands used at the national competition, so the kids can become familiar with them.

“In Oklahoma, OKNASP (Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program) promotes physical education by providing target archery training to the state’s youth. Designed for fourth through 12th graders, the curriculum covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvemen,” according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The NASP website says, “More than 10,000 schools have adopted the program, which has reached 7.1 million students in 50 states and five countries.”

On Feb. 6, these student archers competed against the other Pryor elementary schools as well as elementary school teams from around the district. Look for results in a later edition of The Times.