As the last of 624 young archers finished up Saturday, Ben Berka and a couple dozen meet volunteers could call it a night. Well, not yet. There were still results to compile. Those elementary, middle and high school competitors, their parents and coaches wanted to know how everybody did in the Iowa championships of the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP), February 25-26 in Des Moines.
The state meet culminated a two-month season and, just as importantly, years of preparation that began in elementary or middle school. "For every team that gets here, it's mandatory for the archery program to be offered as part of the in-school curriculum," emphasizes Berka, shooting sports coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources. "We offer standardized training. Folks come in for a day. They learn a lot about archery and how to teach archery to beginners."
With fewer young people hunting, it provides an entry to the outdoors, and maybe conservation and hunting. It may introduce them to competition shooting or just plinking targets in the backyard. "One thing schools tell me all the time is it's a great complement to what they offer; as far as after school programming," says Berka. "Kids shooting archery are not always your best athletes. You don't have to be able to jump high or run fast."
Those young archers, though, do have to focus and concentrate on good technique and making minor adjustments through repetition. "I need to kind of slow down when I'm shooting at 15 meters," analyzes Diagonal sixth grader Cassidy Lohmann. "I get in a rush and mess up. I need to take my time and use up my two (allowed) minutes at the line." Still, Lohmann finished fifth among elementary girls competing at State.
A couple dozen school teams load up the bus or family vans for the trip to Des Moines. Qualifying schools can move on to Nationals. But it takes more than just a sharp eye and steady hand through the season. "It's definitely a lot of travel for us-and we fund all that ourselves-so it is expensive," says Spencer team coach Teresa Ball. Though Spencer boasts 94 archers in the program, there is no other school fielding a competitive team in the region to compete against.
Her squad qualified for Nationals and is looking at six weeks to raise about $8,000 to take archers to Louisville, Ky. "We end up with a lot of supportive parents and the community. Their donations and sponsorships have been awesome," stresses Ball.
For others, the emphasis stays in the gym. Northwest and North Central middle schools, which feed into West High School in Iowa City, offer the curriculum to about 1,000 7th and 8th graders, on an alternate year basis. Time constraints prevent Johnson County Conservation Department naturalist Brad Friedhof from expanding beyond that.
Either way, it's a skill that resonates with the young archers."I intend to stick with it. I'm certified to coach. My choice for college has a potential archery team, so I'm going to see if I can get in on that, too," declares 18-year old Erin Krei, of Spencer. She was sixth in the individual high school girls' competition.
That resonates, of course, with the outdoor community. "Obviously, by putting bows and education in their hands; some will certainly make that link to the outdoors and conservation," notes Berka.
Team Summary: National Archery in Schools Program-Iowa championship
|1) Cardinal Comets||3260||148|
|2) Spencer Archery||3241||142|
|3) Alburnett Archery||3220||126|
|1) Wildcat Archery; Central City||3228||140|
|2) Spencer Archery||3130||89|
|3) Cardinal Comets||3107||87|
|1) Wildcat Archery; Central City||3040||89|
|2) Diagonal Maroons||3000||78|
|3) Anamosa Schools||2644||33|
|Boys Individual, High School||Points||10s|
|1) Ryan Coulson, Johnston||289||21|
|2) Joshua Ohlert, Bellevue||286||20|
|3) Tayton Easton, Cardinal||284||19|
|4) Dillon Davenport, Diagonal||284||17|
|5) Bryan Tewes, Spencer||281||14|
|Girls Individual, High School||Points||10s|
|1) Steff Bisinger*, Alburnett||291||21|
|2) Sky Conger, Cardinal||291||21|
|3) Tymbria Snobel, Alburnett||289||20|
|4) Morgan Ruhl, Anamosa||285||16|
|5) Anna Lampe, Bellevue||282||16|