The Wayne County Schools Archery Team participated in the 10th Region Archery Tournament on Thursday, February 21 at Northern Middle School in Somerset with 26 archers participating. While the students in sixth through 11th grade made a strong showing with 2,906 points, their score was 94 points shy of advancing to state competition. Southwestern's two teams were the leaders in the competition, with a dozen schools participating.
Wayne County Archery Coach Sarah Dishman, who has been working with the team for several years, said they had a good year with the combined male and female team where students learned a lot of new skills and gained a lot of confidence throughout the year.
The team started off the year with a big turnout of sixth graders due to the reconfiguration of the campus where sixth graders moved to the middle school level. At the end of the year half the team mainly consisted of sixth graders. So with this being half the team's first year of actually learning a new sport and competing in it, they did really well.
"We look forward to having a successful season next year and I feel that we have the ability to be a strong and very competitive team,"
said Coach Dishman.
"I enjoy archery because it's competitive, fun, and I get to meet a lot of new people," said sixth grader Isaac Phillips. "It's fun and I can use it to improve my hunting skills."
About two dozen students have been eager to show up for practice once a week. They have been learning to shoot after school and have practiced their skills since October. In January, they traveled to Northern Middle School where they competed among seven counties placing fourth. According to the rules, the team at region got two practice shots from a 10 meter distance and then 15 shots from 10 meters and then the same from 15 meters. A perfect score would be 300 as the arrows land on the target.
The students are eager to shoot with the school bare bows. "This is my third year doing school archery," said Grace Bradley. She has also been involved in the 4-H Archery Club for several years and got so good at it that she got a pink camouflage sighted bow. Her mother has encouraged her to excel in archery because of the opportunity for girls to get scholarships. At a previous state meet they learned that the University of the Cumberlands offered girls a full ride scholarship in archery. Grace would like to become a neonatal care nurse and will need to go to nursing school to qualify for that job, so the possibility of an archery scholarship is appealing.
Archery is a unique school sport because it includes both males and females and does not require extreme athleticism, so it reaches a lot of students. In fact, the team has included students with special needs who have made strong contributions to the team. In years past, the local team had one child in a wheelchair compete and performed real well and a handicapped student that could only use one arm competed from a neighboring school district. So, archery is the kind of sport where students who have disabilities can find ways to compete on a level playing field.
This season both middle and high school age students are working together to hit the bulls eye on the targets. "We had 12-year-olds competing against 18-year-olds," but they all worked together as a team with the top 12 archers' scores making up the overall points at region, explained Dishman.
"We started out with ten sixth graders, so they have helped our numbers," she said. "I've really enjoyed having them on the team.
They have so much enthusiasm. They're just happy to be there."
The team is fortunate to be coached by someone like Sarah that has such an interest in archery. She gets some assistance from her husband Tim, whom she refers to as her enforcer on the team. "He's the intimidator," she said.
The couple not only help guide the school team, but also have coached the 4-H Archery Club for seven years. Both of their sons have been active in the program and the boys and their Dad enjoy bow hunting.
"We have a lot of the same kids" on the school team and the 4-H Club, so they have good relationships with the teenagers.
"Archery requires skill and coordination, but a lot of how well they do is in their minds," said Dishman, who encourages her archers to be focused when shooting and to believe they can hit the mark.
"You have to be their cheerleader, but once they get on the line there is nothing you can do," said Dishman. "I'm a cheerleader without the pom poms."
"If they ever get to whining or complaining that their arm is getting tired, I remind them of the boy pulling 60 pounds back with his teeth, who was super good," said Dishman.