Harlan County High School seems to be on target with the latest edition to its athletic program.
Following the termination of the school’s original archery program in 2011, numerous students expressed interest to begin a new team. The Harlan County Board of Education, along with the new head coach Damon Lewis, decided to give students what they wanted.
Lewis, who first became acquainted with the sport during his eight years of managing a sporting goods store, says he felt it was unfair to not provide students with a way of pursuing the sport.
“I’ve always enjoyed getting people involved in archery because it’s a lifelong sport. It’s not like you’re going to outgrow it; you can be 65 years old and still shoot a bow,” said Lewis.
Various students have been very vocal about their appreciation of the addition of this new extra-curricular activity.
“I have been waiting to compete on an archery team for a while, and when I got to high school and found out they didn’t have one anymore and I was very disappointed. I’m just glad I have the chance to compete now and share the experience with my teammates,” said sophomore Andrea Dean.
Soon after a registration sheet was posted, 75 students had signed their names indicating they were interested. Not all of them actually ended up joining the team. One reason for this was conflicts with other school activities, which is an issue Lewis says he soon plans to resolve.
The team ended up with 18 team members for its first season, which was Lewis’ exact goal.
After receiving such a positive response from students eager to participate in the sport, the school board decided to take it one step further and work on beginning a team in each elementary school across the county. This will provide students with a way to learn the basics of the sport in order to be better prepared to compete on a high school level. A training for all upcoming elementary school coaches is planned for March 18.
State law includes two guidelines for teams competing on the state level: each team must have at least 16 members and at least five of those members must be female in order to maintain a sense of equality. HC’s team was able to easily meet both standards.
“As of now, we have six females on the team, and I expect to have more in the future because they shoot just as well as the guys,” Lewis said.
The team has already came a long way in less than one full season considering when members first began practicing they didn’t even have an actual place to shoot. Since then, the school has invested in a range set-up with new bows, arrows and targets.
Although most of the members are fairly new to the sport, they are catching on quite well. According to team members, the amount they have improved is unbelievable.
“To me the most important thing is teaching kids something they can carry on throughout their life, despite aging or possible injuries. With other sports, people aren’t able to compete as well when they’re older as they did when they were young, whereas as you get older with archery you actually get better,” said Lewis.
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Harlan County placed seventh out of 10 teams in the Region 10 Tournament on March 4 at Fleming-Neon.
Wolfe County won the regional with 3,350 points, followed by Letcher Central (3.326), Corbin (3.305), North Laurel (3,253), South Laurel (3,193), Knott Central (3,179), Harlan County (3,116), Clay County (3,067), Perry Central (2,970) and Estill County (2,845).
Trevor Wilson led HCHS, placing 11th with a score of 285 that included 15 bullseyes. Calvin Gross was 12th with a 282 and 15 bullseyes. Dylan Gross was 38th with a 270. Jeff Ramsey was 42nd with a 268. Sasha Patterson was 28th in the girls competition with a 264, including 10 bullseyes.
Kassee Robinson is the student of Bear Tracks, an electronic school newspaper at Harlan County High School.