LEWISBURG — Bows and arrows have found their way into Tri-County North’s curriculum – in a very good way.
The Panthers have been growing an archery club over the last few years and this year’s team headed over to Columbus to compete in the Arnold Classic during the first weekend in March.
Every Thursday, the club meets in the cafeteria – led by Lewisburg’s Police Chief Rick McGee and TCN third grade teacher Ben Mangan—to practice their technique. Currently, the program only holds third through fifth grade, but the school is hoping that expands as the students get older and the sport becomes more popular.
When it comes time to shoot, the school puts up a Kevlar curtain so the students can shoot at their targets. The instructors are always present and there to help teach students the proper techniques and protocols of archery.
“Safety is our first priority. We are very conscious about that. There is no horsing around or goofing off,” said McGee. “The kids really seem to love it.”
There are even talks of making the sport sanctioned in the next two years. North’s club holds about 24 third graders and 24 fourth and fifth graders. It has a wide appeal as well because it shows no discrimination – anyone can participate and succeed in the sport.
“(The sport) became their own. I thought that was pretty cool. All these kids were coming in from different walks of student population,” said Mangan. “For the Arnold Classic – I thought it was great for them to be able to see that what we are doing here in Lewisburg is translating out. There are kids all across Ohio doing the same stuff. They actually got to see that.”
It is a skillset that uses fine motor skills – which is the coordination of small muscle movements – and is part of the reason it is the great equalizer for athletes and non-athletes, said TCN gym teacher Amy Kramer, who is another certified archery instructor and also helps with the club.
“Everybody is on the same playing field whether they are an athlete or non-athlete. They have an opportunity to do well, as long as they are good listeners and follow instructions, they have success with it,” she said.
Archery also teaches the students patience, added Kramer. They have to learn to pull the bow up, steady their hands, and focus on the target. Repetition is key in the sport.
“If they want to be good, they are going to have to work at it,” she said.
On another educational level, there is also some math involved because each shooter must quickly add up five 10-digit numbers and keep their own score.
The Arnold Classic in Ohio acts as the state tournament for Ohio with the winners heading to the national competition in Louisville. It was for fourth through 12th grade, with no age groups or categories. It was everybody versus everybody.
McGee said that while nobody from North advanced to the national tournament, the students all did very well for it being their first tournament.
Eaton and Twin Valley South are also trying to start programs, which could create local competitions in the near future too.
North gave a special thanks to the Twin Valley Rod and Gun club as well, who helped them get grants and personally donated so the school could get the needed equipment.
Reach Jeremy Erskine at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.