What started as an afterschool activity last year at Oak Grove Elementary has evolved into something much, much more. It all began when reading specialist Janet Logan discovered some unused archery equipment at the school.
“We had the archery kit in storage for a long time,” Logan explained. “Evidently, they were going to try to do something with it years ago, but it never happened. So, we dug it all out last year, and we started an archery club as part of the 21st Century afterschool program.”
Logan said she initially had about 15-20 students who wanted to be a part of the school’s archery club, but she has seen tremendous growth since then. “We have over 40 kids now, ages third grade through sixth,” she said. “We have double the targets, we’ve purchased more bows and we have additional arrows.”
Calling themselves the Bruin Bow Benders, what was once Oak Grove’s archery club is now a full-fledged team. They are competing in official National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) tournaments, and they are hoping to become the trailblazers that will inspire others in the Whitley County school district to adopt the activity as well.
“I hope that we experience success here to the point where other schools will want to follow suit and sponsor teams as well,” Logan said. “We had Jennie Richardson, who is a Whitley County graduate and accomplished archer in her own right, come work with us during Christmas break, and one of the things she talked to the kids about was what a great time this is for them to be getting involved with archery. There is actually great scholarship potential there.”
As for Logan’s background in shooting, she said that she learned how to use a bow about 13 years ago, when she was serving as den leader for her sons’ Cub Scout group. “We all learned how to shoot together,” she said. “And it’s something that I’ve had an interest in ever since.”
As for why she feels so passionately about getting kids involved in shooting, she said, “It really is an equalizing sport. You can be little, or big. You can be male, or female. Regardless of who you are, your outcome is going to depend on the effort that you put in. Plus, you get to compete individually, as well as having a chance to hopefully contribute to your team’s overall score.”
In closing, Logan said, “I’m very pleased with how quickly these kids have responded to the challenges that have been put before them. I’m pleased with the improvements that we’ve seen, especially considering the fact that many of the kids had not shot a bow prior to this. They’re not scared, though. They are working hard, and have been doing well in the tournaments that we have competed in so far.”
Current members of the Oak Grove archery team are: John Ball, Jayden Barton, Jaelyn Brackett, Jessica Bray, Tayler Brown, Lacey Burke, Christopher Carroll, Jeremiah Decker, Maddox Doan, Alexia Eversole, Gracelyn Fox, Valeria Garcia, Kylee Gilreath, Tyler Hubbs, Caleb Knight, Samuel Lemons, Brileigh Logan, Zoie Moore, Evan Pennington, Timothy Pfoutz, Krystin Price, Cameron Smith, Preston Steely, Braden Seney, Luke Tepesano, Jada Wilson, Jonathan Wilson, Catelin Ball, Justin Bray, Derick Dixon, Alyssa Hamilton, Shayla Hensley, Jacob Henson, Morgan Hodge, Alexis LeForce, Chloe McKiddy, Matthew Sawyers, Alexis Setser, Makaya Sharp, Austin Steely, Abi Stone and Lacey Woods.
To track the progress of the Bruin Bow Benders, look them up on Facebook. For past results, as well as a schedule of events, visit nasptournaments.org. More info about the National Archery in the Schools Program can be found at naspschools.org.