Archery hits mark with students
Journal Courier. Carol Roehm. December 30, 2019.

Danville (AP) — A group of young archers aims to do well when they make their debut next month at an archery tournament in Potomac.

Northeast Elementary Magnet School is the latest local school to form an archery team.

Kim Corley, Northeast’s school secretary who also assists with the school archery teams, said Danville High School Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps. Lt. Col. Timothy Merriott contacted the school last year to see if there was any interest in forming an archery team.

“The colonel said if we started a pilot program, he would let us borrow the equipment from the JROTC program,” she said. “In order to offer it, we also have to teach it in PE for a couple weeks.”

The student response to try archery has been overwhelming.

“We had 70 students who wanted to do it, so we had to have tryouts,” Corley said.

The school ended up with two teams, totaling 40 archers and three alternatives. Sixteen sixth-graders are on the middle school team, while 27 fourth- and fifth-graders comprise the elementary school team.

“We just plan to do local tournaments for now,” Corley said.

Northeast’s first tournament will be the 2020 10-Meter Icebreaker on Saturday, Jan. 4, at the Potomac Grade School, 7915 U.S. Route 136, Potomac.

“They’re going to come over break to practice,” she said.

The young archers and their parents also will help with the sixth annual Ullr Classic Tournament set for Jan. 18 at Danville High.

“Northeast’s archery parents will be in charge of gift baskets and the raffle,” Corley said.

The archery teams’ head coaches are Northeast parents Ryan Schull and Broc Atwood, with Kurt Sovine as the assistant coach. The teams practice for two hours twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“We have so many kids, we have to have two teams because that’s as many bows as we have,” Schull said.

Schull said he and Atwood were trained over the summer to become basic archery instructors.

“I’ve hunted most of my life,” Schull said of his interest in archery.

“This is good for them,” he said of the students as he led the practice for the archery teams earlier this week. “It teaches them self-motivation, self-esteem and patience.

“There are no kids who are disrespectful,” he added. “The parents have been really supportive.”

The children must follow a lot of rules, including keeping their arrows in their quivers until instructed to shoot with a “one-whistle” command and, if they drop an arrow, they must leave it on the ground until they are instructed to retrieve all of their arrows.

During practice the children alternate between shooting arrows into a target block on the other side of Northeast’s gym and exercising their arms to build the strength needed to pull back on the taut bowstring.

“They do pushups and arm circles to build up their upper arm strength and backs,” Schull said. “After each group shoots, we do exercises. They seem to shoot better after exercising.”

Schull picked student Dennis Rineberg to lead the exercises, but clearly pushups were not the favored exercise judging by the response of the children as they attempted to do 20 pushups.

“We’re going to make leaders out of you,” Schull said, encouraging the children.

Next, the young archers took aim at their targets across the gym.

As children counted up their points based on where their arrows landed in the target block, sixth-grader Alli Jo Rodgers exclaimed, “I have a bullseye!”

Alli Jo said she really enjoys archery and finds it mentally challenging.

“It’s more of a brain teaser. You have to know where you need to shoot,” she explained. “Going to competition, we can show what we’ve learned.”

Fourth-grader Jae Leone said, “It’s a lot of fun to shoot.”

Fourth-grader Katie Long agreed. “What I like about it is shooting and making new friends.”

Fellow fourth-grader Britynn Atwood said being in archery is about more than just target practice.

“It’s all about good sportsmanship,” she said.

Alli Jo agreed. “Being rude reflects on your school and yourself.”

Schull said he was eager for the teams’ first tournament in a little more than two weeks.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “Our practice started a month ago, but they have really taken this to heart.”

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