By BRITTANY SHIVERS - firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout the year, the Coweta County 4-H Archery Team can be found shooting arrows at the Coweta County Fairgrounds to improve their aim, strength and overall skill.
The team is comprised of about 50 active participants that are 9 to 18 years of age. Fourth, fifth and sixth graders compete in the cloverleaf division, seventh and eighth graders compete in the junior division and high schoolers compete in the senior division.
“They are a very dedicated group of kids and adult coaches, and it's our largest 4-H program in Coweta County,” said Roberta Prince, Coweta County 4-H program assistant.
In the competition season, which runs from October to May, the team competes in several county matches, as well as two big state matches. In 2019, the team brought home many top-five wins.
The first big match of the season was the indoor state match in Perry. With over 900 individuals competing, Kaden Lopez placed fourth in the Junior Compound Male division and Madison Davis placed first in the Senior Compound Female division.
For the 2019 Rock Eagle 4-H State Final, Coweta’s Senior Compound Team placed fifth, while the Junior Compound Team placed fourth and the Cloverleaf Compound Team placed third.
Standout archers at the state final were Ashley Whipkey who placed fourth in the Cloverleaf Recurve division and Kaden Lopez who placed third in the Junior Compound division. Over 700 individuals competed.
Although the 2019 competition season is over, the team is holding archery practices all summer for team members who wish to keep practicing. This is the first year that practices have been held in the off-season.
“We decided to do this because the kids, parents and coaches expressed an interest in being able to use the facilities at the fairgrounds more,” said Dana Davis, head coach. “They wanted to keep the kids conditioned through summer and make time to get together and let the kids be outside.”
The archery field at the fairgrounds has been improved, due to the team being awarded an NRA Foundation Grant in April. The grant is made available to programs that promote safe shooting sports education, according to Davis.
From the grant, the team received eight new target butts, six 3D targets, two archery curtains, some bow stringers and target faces valued at over $5000.
“We were able to replace all of our old targets that were falling apart to create a better range for the kids at the county fairgrounds,” said Davis.
Aside from the now exemplary shooting range, the program also has a large and highly trained staff.
“We’ve added a few more coaches, and they’ve all been getting a higher level of education,” said Davis. “We’re all certified as USA Archery coaches at different levels, so the coaches have been working to get higher levels of certification.”
The certification levels are one through five, with five being an Olympic coach level certification. Coweta County’s coaches have a certification level ranging from one to three, according to Davis.
With 50 to 60 kids on the team, it is helpful to have multiple coaches, and the Coweta County 4-H Archery Team has 11. All of them are volunteers.
“We have a great group of kids,” said Jesse Lopez, an assistant coach. “It’s amazing to watch these kids develop. They go from not even knowing how to operate the bow in the beginning, and then they start achieving their goals at the end of the season.”
Coweta’s archery team is expected to do great things in the 2020 season.
“We have several talented shooters,” said Lopez. “Our seniors will be a very good team next year, and our juniors are going to be very competitive.”
Practices are held on Friday nights and Saturday mornings during the season. Sign-ups for returning archers will be Sept. 4, while sign-ups for new archers will be Sept. 13. Both will be held at the UGA Extension office in Coweta.