Archery hoping to catch on in schools locally
The Jimmies shooting sports team helped out the event at Hansen Center.
JAMESTOWN — When 2023 is over there will have been 50 archery competitions taking place around the state of North Dakota through the National Archery in the Schools Program. The sport is offered for kids from grades 4 through 12 and there are schools that take part in 50 different counties in the state.
“It’s a sport that anybody can really participate in, boys or girls,” St. John’s Academy coach Chris Althoff said. “We’ve got kids starting in third and fourth grade all the way through middle school at St. John’s and there’s all the way through high school at other schools. The kids can also earn scholarships for their shooting when they go to a state tournament.”
There are eight schools in Jamestown that take part in the sport including St. John’s Academy, who recently hosted an archery competition for local kids with the bullseye competition taking place at the school and the 3D competition taking place at the University of Jamestown’s Hansen Center. The event took place from Feb. 10 through Feb. 11. The bullseye competition saw the participants shoot at a standard 10-ring target sitting at 10 meters away for the first three rounds for five arrows per round. The next 15 arrows are shot at 15 meters away. The 3D competition saw participants shooting at plastic models of a coyote, a bear, a turkey, an antelope, whitetail deer and an antelope. The 3D animals are placed on a diagonal line with the turkey placed 10 yards away from the participants and the ram is placed furthest away at 15 yards. Althoff said there were 370 kids participating in the event spread across the different age groups and categories.
“It gives the local kids a good opportunity to shoot at a tournament,” Althoff said. “They can go outside of Jamestown and go shoot tournaments if they choose but not all of them choose to. This gives kids a good opportunity to come to shoot a tournament at St. John’s Academy and showcase the archery at St. John’s Academy and the University of Jamestown where we held the 3D event.”
One of the middle schoolers that participated in the event was seventh grader Kenny Dobson, who won the middle school boys’ bullseye competition with a score of 277. Dobson also participated in the 3D competition finishing with a score of 258. Dobson said he was looking forward to the event because he enjoys the sport and gets excited to participate in all the tournaments he participates in. The event saw kids from approximately 14 different schools participate including five kids from St. John’s Academy who finished in the top five of their respective categories.
Despite the fact that the North Dakota Game and Fish Department gave out 29,739 deer bowhunting licenses for the 2021-22 season, Althoff does not see the rise in the popularity of the sport being entwined with hunting.
“I don’t know that I would tie it to hunting necessarily,” Althoff said. “I think that obviously if we get kids interested in archery at a young age it might lead to some that would like to hunt later which is good. But obviously, at the age, we’re coaching at and we’ve got right now, starting at third and fourth grade and going through eighth grade. I know some of them, we've got a couple that are hunters but not many of them. So, I think it’s a genuine interest in archery right now for them.”
Dobson said he enjoys the time between shooting when he can talk to his friends and have fun.
“In between, you get two minutes to talk while the linemen are setting up,” Dobson said. “So, you do have fun in between and that award ceremony is really fun, talking, anytime between that is always good times.”
One of the other kids that participated in the tournament at St. John’s was fourth grader McKenna Lipetzky who is in her first year participating in the sport. Lipetzky said she enjoys it and practices the events twice a week.
“It was a really fun activity in the winter so I figure I might as well try it,” Lipetzky said. “It’s a cool sport, it’s a couple days a week, why not?”
Lipetsky said she prefers shooting 3D, but that she was more successful at the event in the bullseye with a score of 215. Lipetsky said she likes both tournaments and practice for different reasons. She said she likes the fact that she can get her energy out during the tournaments.
“I like tournaments a lot but I also like practice because they help you a lot and it’s really fun,” Lipetzky said. “Sometimes you compete against your friends just for fun, who can get the highest (score).”
From March 17-18, the NASP hosts the 2023 North State NASP Tournament in Minot, which Althoff says is open to all kids. Althoff said the kids that do well at the state tournament are awarded scholarship money and advance to the national tournament.
“The majority of the scholarship money is all based on scoring at state,” Althoff said. “So, even though you may be a younger kid if you score higher than an older kid you’ll definitely be eligible for that scholarship money. I believe if I go out and look, there’s approximately $20,000 in scholarship money given out each year.”