Archery teaches teamwork, life skills for Maryland kids

Emily Chappell
Contact ReporterCarroll County Times

The quick thwack of arrows hitting targets filled the air in the Shipley Arena of the Carroll County Agriculture Center on Saturday.

The sound, repetitive and almost rhythmic, was intermingled with the high-pitched ping of arrows hitting the ground as participants removed them from the targets.

Kids ranging in age from fourth-graders to high school seniors, from throughout the state, lined up on two sides of the room. One half shot toward targets, while the other toward animal-shaped foam objects.

For 14-year-old Erin Saunders, getting to spend the day working on her archery is, simply put, a fun time. The Westminster resident was one of more than 400 participants Saturday at Maryland's fifth annual National Archery in the Schools Program tournament and the second annual NASP/International Bowhunting Organization 3D Challenge.

The tournament consists of categories including the elementary, middle and high school divisions, as well as individual archers.

Saunders shoots for the North Carroll Community School team. Being part of a team has helped her make a lot of friends, she said.

It can be a difficult sport, she said. Staying consistent is the most challenging part, she added, but practice helps.

Saunders started archery after trying it as a Girl Scout and really liked it, she said. It's taught her a lot she can take into life, she added.

Patrick Donnelly, coach for Liberty Christian School's team, said the sport also helps teach kids "concentration and focus." He tells his kids that the skills they learn here are the same ones they can apply to other areas of life.

Last year, he said, a kid on his team was really struggling and missing the target. But this year, just 12 months later, she had improved and was getting better every day. Seeing the excitement on her face was great, he added.

"They miss but they get right back up," he added.

And the other kids who are just starting out — they see that, and want that sense of accomplishment too, Donnelly said.

"That's what they shoot for," he said.

"You get a lot of practice under stressful situations," she said.

More than 400 kids participated in Saturday's tournament, according to Ryan Bass, director of NASP/IBO.

Sisters Caitlyn and Alicia McCollough participated Saturday, in addition to their older brother, 15-year-old Erick.

Alicia said archery's a cool sport, partly because you get to be a part of a team. All three McCullough kids shoot for the North Carroll Community School team.

It's fun because everyone is friendly, she said, and it's not just about the competition.

"And you get to shoot stuff," Alicia added, laughing.


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