Right on Target with Help from Operation Round-Up®
Right on Target
By Sarah Farlee
A $500 grant from Operation Round-Up® hit the mark for outfitting the group’s travel trailer.
Lexie Welsh got her first archery bow for her fifth birthday. At just shy of knee-high to a grasshopper, she took a challenge to hit a balloon hanging from a tree. With the snap of the bow and the pop of that balloon, a love of archery was born. Now, the 9-year-old Valley Victors 4-H’er is in her second year of the archery project where her love for shooting her bow is being molded into a passion.
“I love doing archery,” says Lexie. “It’s hard though.”
Lexie’s mom, Dianna Welsh, says she hopes Lexie learns discipline from participation in the sport.
“I just want her to have to work hard at something,” says Dianna. “I want her to gain that work ethic by having to work to get better and have fun while doing it.”
Lexie does have fun while out on the shooting range, and so do the other 28 children from 10 local clubs who participate under the direction of C.J. Bunce. Bunce shot archery as a young 4-H’er under the direction of his parents because the county didn’t have a formal team.
“There were myself and one or two other kids who competed, but we did all of our own practicing and learning on our own at home,” Bunce said. “My last year in 4-H three guys came in and started an archery program with formal practices every week.”
Bunce added that the leaders were familiar with archery, but not the 4-H meet protocols. As a senior shooter Bunce helped the group get started and learn the technicalities of 4-H tournament shooting. Bunce enjoyed helping younger kids and even though he was one year from being aged out of the program he was determined to give others an opportunity.
“I decided that I wanted to give 4-H’ers the opportunity I (we) never had when I was in 4-H,” said Bunce. “I want to give new kids an opportunity to try archery and those who are serious about it an opportunity to practice more if they can’t shoot at home or if they don’t have a family member with experience. An extra set of eyes helps a lot even if they do have family members that shoot.”
4-H archery, which runs from April to September, not only teaches safety and techniques, it teaches discipline. A couple benefits of 4-H are developing leadership skills and meeting and learning from others. George Meyer, a Lucky 4 4-H’er from Oskaloosa, says the best part of archery isn’t just hitting targets.
“I think I’ve learned just as much about life skills as I have archery,” says Meyer, who has been shooting for six years. “I’ve learned how to interact with people, and I’ve learned valuable skills about how to compete.”
Other 4-H’ers in the program echoed Meyer, including Jayden Herrman, a first-year shooter from the Valley Falls Prosperity 4-H Club. Herrman is a first-year shooter who wanted to explore shooting sports. “My friends were doing it, and I thought, why not at least give it a try,” Herrman said.
Senior shooters Wyatt Barnett and Zoey Reinke hope that shooting will stay with them beyond their 4-H years, not only as a skill, but in the lessons they’ve learned.
“I think shooting has really taught me how to maintain my cool in pressure situations,” said Barnett, who has been shooting for 10 years. “I have come a long way since I started.”
Reinke wants to continue shooting long term.
“This has become a hobby for me,” said Reinke, from the Valley Falls Prosperity club. “I’ve loved getting to know people and making new friends and just learning new things along the way.”
Learning is the focus of these 4-H’ers. Each time they string the bow is an opportunity to not only get better, but be better.
The team, under the direction of Bunce, has been successful. The program sent 14 to the state match in Lindsborg and brought home 10 top-three individual medals and three top-three team medals.
FreeState’s Operation Round-Up® assisted the project in constructing their travel trailer pulled by Bunce to meets and practice for the kids. The trailer makes it easy and safer to transport the equipment, helps keep the equipment in good condition and has colorful decals on the side that instill a sense of pride in the participants.
“We were just boxing everything up each time, and it really started to wear on the equipment,” said Bunce. “This trailer helps us keep everything together, and hung and secured inside the trailer so we can keep the equipment nice and usable for many years to come.”
For more information on the Jefferson County Archery program, contact the Meadowlark District or Jefferson County Extension Office. For more information on Operation Round-Up® , visit www.freestate.coop/operationroundup.