How was archery camp? – “Sweet!”

by Tom Barker

Twenty-one youth archers from around the state participated in a once in a lifetime experience January 17-18 in Victoria, Texas.  We had beginners, intermediates and advanced archers.  The Victoria county 4H archery project hosted and the Coastal Bend JOAD clubs sponsored a fabulous weekend of youth compound archery. 

Michael Braden, professional archer, outstanding teacher and all around nice guy was the lead instructor.  Adam Guiggesberg, United States Archery Team member, assisted Michael with equipment modifications while Tom Barker, Dale Garner, Shelby Fischer, Randy Morgan, Brain Heinsohn, Mellisa Ceballos and Mark Lesak helped with instruction.  T.C. Baker, Kevin Barker and Marcia Barker did the video taping of the kids while John Bradley took scores of digital pictures.  Denise and Michael DeBord, Kathy Heinsohn, Tammy Pizzitola made sure the kids were hydrated and snacked up.  Todd Janota and Danny Miller cooked hamburgers for the multitude.  Janet Lesak headed up the registration and name tag distribution.

 Saturday morning was a little slow while the kids were broken into groups to shoot, be video'd and show what their current form was.  The concern was to make sure the kids were not "shot out" by the time they got their turn with Michael.  We felt it was important to do the pre-analysis to record the baseline and for the future understand how much they had improved.  While some groups were shooting, others watched video tapes of compound and recurve archers.  Everyone broke for lunch at noon to refuel on those hamburgers.

 After lunch Michael spent some time talking and showing proper compound archery form.  Everyone worked on their own individual shot sequence.  About 2:30 everyone got up to shoot.  Michael worked one on one with everyone until about 7:00PM when he got through with most of the archers.  While Michael was working with a couple of archers, the rest of the instructors were reinforcing what Michael had told them.

 Sunday morning Michael shot a little and talked about aiming before finishing up with the few kids that didn’t get their one on ones Saturday evening.  After this we took a short break and then went back to analyze and video every archer’s “after” form.  It was amazing how much the youth archers had improved.  Many were shooting consistently in the yellow due to the improved form.  About 11:30 we wrapped up the camp with a brief discussion on goal setting and adjourned at noon.

 The camp evaluation forms confirmed what I had seen and heard; we hit a home run with this camp.  Everyone wanted more time with Michael (especially some of the instructors) and each and every archer felt they had picked up some important improvements in their form.  In the words of several kids, it was “Sweet!”

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