New Lexington hosts archery Fun Shoot | News

NEW LEXINGTON— “I love this sport.” That sentiment best describes how New Lexington elementary teacher Jim Moyer feels about the Panther archery team that he coaches along with Jerimiah Schleup and Jonna Gibson. Moyer says archery is an all-inclusive activity that attracts students of all abilities. That statement was in action on Saturday, Feb. 19, when the New Lexington Fun Shoot took place. Over 220 archers in grades 4-12 representing six Muskingum Valley League (MVL) schools participated in the event.

While MVL teams compete for a league championship throughout the archery season, a Fun Shoot is not a competition between the teams. Individuals with the highest scores in their respective age groups are recognized at the end of the day, but the team competition is strictly for fun.

The three age groups in archery are elementary grades 4 and 5, Middle School grades 6-7-8, and high school grades 9-12. New Lexington’s archery team belongs to the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) that formed in 2002. To date, NASP representatives report over 18 million students have participated in school archery programs.

Archers take aim at a target from two distances. The first distance is 10 meters while the second round of shooting has the archers 15 meters from the target. At each distance the archers will shoot three sets of five arrows called an end. Once all three rounds at 10 meters have been completed and scored, the archers repeat the process from 15 meters. A practice round of five arrows precedes the scoring rounds. The top score attainable is 300 points.

The highest scoring archer for the Fun Shoot was West Muskingum middle schooler Ty Knaup, who finished with 289 points. New Lexington’s best archers in the elementary group were 4th grader Thaddeus McCord and 5th grader Kadence Radigan. Jonathan Bourne was the highest scoring archer from New Lexington Middle School while Caden Gibson and Kelly Gordon were the highest scorers from the Panther high school squad. Caden and Kelly are both juniors.

While archery success is measured in points, the collateral gain for these young archers may be immeasurable. The self-esteem, discipline, and dedication factors of archery are as evident as the targets that lined the far wall of New Lexington Middle School’s gym. Moyer also stresses academics with the team.

“The kids must maintain a 2.0 average with no F’s on their report card to maintain eligibility,” states Moyer.

The Fun Shoot participants move by a series of whistles. No verbal commands are given. Phrases like “bows on toes” and the consistent behavior from the young archers dominated the Fun Shoot. Moyer says that approach stems from the number one priority when it comes to the sport.

“Safety is always the top priority,” states Moyer. “We tell the kids they are responsible for themselves and that means self-discipline.” Another factor in this safety first approach is the identical structure for practice and actual matches, according to Moyer.

“Practice is just like a shoot,” says Moyer. “We don’t have drills like other sports do. The kids come to practice and immediately begin the same routine as a shoot. ”

When the team goes to a major tournament that may take place in an arena that is huge compared to their Middle School gym, Moyer invokes what he calls the “Hoosiers line.” In the movie “Hoosiers,” Gene Hackman uses a tape measure to demonstrate the important dimensions for the upcoming championship game are the same as the court back home.

Moyer also remembers the early days of the Panther archery team when participation was so low that a full team could not fielded for an event. Today, the New Lex archery program has a full squad as well as a club group of anglers whose skills are not quite good enough to make the team. However, this group practices with the team and gains valuable experience so that they can compete for a spot in the future.

Student participation is a must for the archery program to succeed, and so is administrative support. Moyer says the New Lexington archery team is fortunate to have both from the archers to the superintendent.

“Mr. Coffey has provided great support for our archery program and so have our Physical Education teachers, ”reports Moyer.

A recipe for outstanding student participation, great administrative support, and dedicated coaches has created a tremendous archery program at New Lexington as well as the schools across the MVL.

Submitted by New Lexington Schools.

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