Archery is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone
by Tom Barker
Almost 13 years ago Kevin, my then 8-year-old son, and I went to the
Goliad 4H archery project meeting just to see what archery was all
about. Within 15 minutes of showing up, project leader Mike Reagan had
Kevin fitted with a bow, standing on the shooting line, flinging arrows
This was our first exposure to archery and its tendency toward being a
'sport of inclusion.' Since that time, my family has attended hundreds
of archery events and every one of them has encouraged wider
participation among all ages.
Kevin just finished competing in his third collegiate national
championship and earned his third Collegiate All-American. Unlike most
other collegiate sports, archery does not require competitors to
"qualify" in order to shoot in the collegiate championships. If an
individual belongs to a collegiate archery club, be it at a Division I
university or a local community college, he or she is welcome to compete.
In fact, almost all archery tournaments are "open" events, where, by
paying the entry fee, you may suddenly find yourself shooting next to an
Olympian or world champion.
As a newcomer to 3D archery - a competition involving foam replicas of
animals placed along a hiking trail at unknown distances - I was a
little intimidated because I was not yet experienced at judging
distance. Within a few minutes of arriving, I felt like I was among friends.
After introductions, a gentleman asked if I wanted to shoot with him and
offered to help me. The man turned out to be The Archery Shop's co-owner
Randy Morgan. What I had anticipated to be a nerve-wracking day spent
looking for lost arrows, turned out to be a fabulous day.
Recently, Randy's father and shop co-owner, Don Morgan, and I competed
in the Texas State Archery Association State Field tournament - a
competition using regular outdoor target bales shot on a course at known
distances. What was unique about this event is the range of competitors:
male, female, Olympic recurve, compound, barebow, and with competitors
ranging in age from 8 to 70.
Don set 3 new state records for the 70-plus age division. Almost
everyone was a winner in some regard with either a personal best, state
record, placing in their division or just surviving the 48 targets over
As archery grows and matures as a sport, there has been a refreshingly
significant trend of including and encouraging physically-challenged
archers. It is no longer a rare occurrence to see a wheelchair or a pair
of crutches on the shooting line, nor is it rare to be beaten by a
wheelchair-bound archer. Last year at US Archery's National
Championships there was even a sight-impaired archer.
In Victoria, local archer, Trey Claybrook, is using archery to help
rehabilitate following a terrible automobile accident. Trey said golf
was frustrating and resulted in too many damaged or lost clubs and that
bowling was not his thing. He found that archery helped him develop his
core muscle strength. Trey has become a truly good archer. He stated
that he has enjoyed archery because of the community of available help.
Some of the kids I have coached have also excelled in other sports like
tennis, basketball, volleyball, track, soccer and baseball. But some
have found a niche with archery when other sports didn't work out for
them. With the exception of Olympic and world teams, there are no
tryouts or cut lists in archery. It truly is a sport for everyone.
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