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“Archery is like a journey, it begins with a love for shooting a bow and a passion for watching our arrows fly.” Ron Laclair

So true. Though I hear Fred Bear first became interested in archery because of a movie he saw.

Huntington’s fledgling archery program already seeing success. Chris Balusik/Gazette

Other schools starting to pick up the bow as well

Flash forward to this season, and the program’s competition team boasts 45 young archers between elementary, middle and high school ages and has an elementary team that recently placed seventh out of 19 teams at the NASP state tournament, qualifying it for national competition May 11 through 13 in Louisville, Kentucky. The program has also become a catalyst for the birth of archery in several other Ross County school districts.


“We kind of had a three-year plan for this thing — it was really to get it implemented in and then this year, join the Appalachian Archery Conference,” said Huntington Coach Brigham Kellough. “We’ve actually surpassed that, we (joined the conference) last year, and in our minds, we never expected to be as successful two years in, but the elementary team qualified for nationals this year, which is phenomenal for just two years into the program.”

 The elementary team, in its inaugural year last year, placed 15th of 17 teams at state competition. This year, the team boosted its combined state competition score by 400 points, with London Fultz placing fourth out of 65 girls in her division, Gabriel Neff placing fourth out of 116 boys in his and Nora Moore-Longpre and Natalie Conley finishing in the top 10 in their divisions.

“It’s just really amazing that we get to go to nationals and that everybody who came (to the program) new has been improving and helped us go to nationals,” Moore-Longpre said.

Short-term results aside, however, for Kellough and those on his coaching staff, it is building a program for long-term success that’s the real focus. He is actively recruiting in high school physical education classes to bolster a high school roster that only has five archers but needs at least 12 for most competitions, and continues to distribute information through physical education classes and annual information meetings for parents to find additional competitors.

Braden Cottrill aims at the target during practice Thursday, March 30, 2017, in the Huntington High School gymnasium.

There is a cost involved for participation as team members are responsible for providing their own competition bows and other equipment, but the program also took the step of applying for 501(c)3 nonprofit status to help bring funds into the program. Over two years it has received $19,500 in grant money from the United Way of Ross County, South Central Power Roundup Grant program and the Robert E. and Genevieve B. Schaefer Fund.

“We didn’t want to have to go to the people in our community all the time and do fundraising and always asking for money,” Kellough said. “We decided to seek nonprofit status so we could get grants.”

Besides the national competition, the program will hit its next milestone April 29 when it hosts its first-ever home tournament, bringing in around 400 archers for a full day of shooting starting at 8 a.m. in the high school gym.

Samuel Conacher lets his arrow fly toward the target during practice Thursday, March 30, 2017, in the Huntington High School gymnasium.


While Kellough plans to stay in the AAC because of the level of competitiveness in the league — even though it means long drive times to every meet — he would love to see other local schools develop competitive teams to supplement the schedule.

Unioto Middle School received a grant from the Ohio Division of Wildlife this year to start an archery program. According to middle school Principal Wilma Gillot, it is being taught in physical education classes this year with plans to start an after school program during the 2017-18 school year. Paint Valley Superintendent Tim Winland said the school’s high school ROTC program offers archery and that there is a desire to get a program started for younger students as well, while Zane Trace Superintendent Jerry Mowery noted the district is likely to explore archery in the next school year after he received information at a recent Ross County superintendents’ meeting that he was taking back to building administrators

Addie Lallier pulls her arrows out of the target during practice Thursday, March 30, 2017, in the Huntington High School gymnasium.

Adena is going one better with regard to shooting sports. Principal Craig Kerns said elementary physical education teacher Tonya Reisinger introduced the sport in physical education classes and, starting in January with the help of community member Hal Hardiesty, has implemented an after school program for grades 3 through 12 that may look toward competitive shooting in the future.

In addition to archery, however, Adena is also offering a trap shooting club in which students shoot shotguns at clay targets. Having just started the program last month with 11 high school students who must pay for their own guns, ammunition and range costs, it is looking to begin competing this month.

“The father of one of our seniors, Ron Preston is the father, he approached me (with the idea),” Kerns said. “He became aware of the Ohio State High School Clay Target League. The school recognizes it, they use our name as a team, and the kids go out and shoot once a week at a local gun range and they record all their scores online which goes to a statewide database. Then, at the end of the school season, there’s a state tournament they can go up and shoot in.”

Kerns and Kellough both noted that while some of those involved in shooting sports are involved in other sports as well, archery and trap shooting offer the opportunity to develop the self-confidence and team skills within other kids who may not fit the traditional athletic image but have a competitive spirit.

“There’s still a competition aspect to it, plus it gives students something else to do after school instead of playing video games or going home and not really being active at all,” Kerns said. “It’s been really well received and we’ve had a lot of comments from parents on both programs and community members excited to see something new and something different for the kids to do.”





“You can think of it as paintball or dodgeball with bows and arrows,” says Archery Games co-owner Kyle Fitzgerald.

Everyone remembers the days of not being able to sit still in math class because of sheer excitement, knowing you were playing dodgeball next in gym class.

Well now the rush and excitement of knocking your best friend out of the game with a flawless throw, or diving beneath an incoming ball to stay in the game, can be experienced with bows and arrows instead of balls.

Archery Games is bringing the growing sport of archery tag to Calgary beginning April 14.

“It’s a new sport that’s been popping up in a few different places now,” said co-founder Kyle Fitzgerald. “You can think of it as paintball or dodgeball with bows and arrows.”

Archery tag is played in an indoor arena with up to 10 players on a team, using arrows padded with foam.

Several different games are available to choose from, with a standard game being similar to dodgeball where you’re eliminated when struck, but are also eligible to return to the game if a teammate catches an arrow or hits one of the targets.

Regular games are available for anyone ages 10 and up, each lasting one hour. Before each match, a 15-minute training session is given to players, so no experience is required.


Scott Tunkin readies his aim while playing archery tag in Calgary.

“Archery tag is a really fun sport that definitely keeps safety in mind,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a little more family-friendly with the arrows not hurting as much, but with the same intensity as paintball or dodgeball.”

Archery Games, located at 22-2015 32nd Ave. N.E., also offers youth hours for children aged 7-12 every Saturday and Sunday morning from 10 a.m. to noon. A session will cost a player $24.95, or a group rate of $399 is also available. Bookings can me made online, over the phone, or a walk-in basis.

The facility is equipped with a concession and seating area for customers looking to purchase snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.

Norm Corner, Archery Games customer, tried archery tag for the first time during a trial session last Tuesday, and said he “had a blast.”

“I definitely wouldn’t wear jeans next time,” said Corner. “It’s actually a half decent workout that’s a lot of fun.”

Corner said he noticed many similarities between archery tag and paintball. The strategy and teamwork still exist, but the pain doesn’t.

“The arrows just don’t hit you the same way a paintball does,” said Corner. “I didn’t leave there covered in welts.”

He said after finally being able to experience what all the hype was about, it’s an excellent alternative to paintball or dodgeball and he’ll be a frequent Archery Games customer going forward.

“It’s an easy location to find and is very clean,” said Corner. “It’s just a lot of fun.”


400 participants representing approximately 15 different schools at an archery meet at Norman Archery near SE 89 and I-35, on Sat., Jan. 28, 2017. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

If the stock market grew as fast as Archery in the Schools has in Oklahoma, we would all be rich.

The program administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation began in 2005 with seven schools and 105 students participating in a state shoot.

Today, 546 schools are teaching archery through the program with more than 50,000 boys and girls participating. The Wildlife Department keeps a waiting list and adds 50 new schools each year.

“The question [of] is this worthwhile doesn’t exist anymore,” said Jay Rouk, Archery in the Schools Coordinator.

On Wednesday and Thursday at State Fair Park, the state shoot will be held for the western half of the state with 150 teams (elementary, middle school and high school) and about 2,500 shooters who have qualified to the event.

Later in the month, a similar event will be held in Tulsa for schools in the eastern half of the state with about the same numbers of participants.

“What makes this work is that it’s fun and safe,” Rouk said. “It’s an activity that appeals to everybody, not just select athletes.”

Rouk said the archery program has proved to improve self-esteem in students and gives them an incentive to come to school and a sense of accomplishment.

Public, private and home school teams will be represented at the state shoot.

What’s up, dock?

My former college roommate and high school teammate, Clif Davis of Stillwater, emailed me after reading my story about dock shooting last Sunday in The Oklahoman.

Clif pointed out the casting method, where anglers use their fishing rods and fishing line like a bow and arrow to fling lures under docks, is not well-liked by some boat owners.

“People who own boats in slips do not like these shooters,” Clif wrote. “They come by the slip and shoot and hit their boat or motor in the slip. Just wanted to give a heads up that proper etiquette, if there is such a thing, would be for fishermen to pass on by that slip if a boat or Sea-Doo is occupying the slip.”

Good point and a reasonable request.

Fishing the Blue

A couple of fishing tournaments are coming up on the beautiful Blue River in southern Oklahoma.

The Presidents Day Blue River Trout Derby will be Feb. 18-19. Sponsored by the Blue River Association and the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce, the derby will award cash prizes for heaviest two-day stringers for men, women, seniors, youth and fly anglers.

Tagged trout totaling $1,000 will be stocked for the derby. Entry fee is $25 for adults and $20 for ages 15 and younger.

For more information, call (580) 371-9288 or (580) 371-2175.

On March 4, the Blue River Fly Fishers will be holding their sixth single pattern fly event, the Blue River Fly Classic.

Anglers are paired in two-person teams and must fish a single pattern fly. Proceeds of the one-fly tournament go to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

This U.S. Army Sergeant now holds the Oklahoma state record non-typical bow kill!

Oklahoma has a new state record bow-killed non-typical whitetail. Travis Ocker’s awesome 28-point buck scores a whopping 245 2/8 and was taken back on November 12 after he missed a 10 point buck at Fort Sill.

Hear him talk about the experience of shooting this once-in-a-lifetime buck in the video report from ABC 7 News below.

After making the 30 yard shot, Ocker’s reaction was about what you might expect.

“I was shook up,” Ocker told ABC 7 News. “There’s no way around it. I remember just the clanking sound of my tree stand after the shot of my legs just…I never shook that bad being cold and it was a warm day that day it was ridiculous.

Can anyone really blame him? It probably only added to the stress that it took Ocker and his son four hours to recover the buck.

Interested Oklahoma residents can view Ocker’s spectacular deer at the Backwoods Hunting and Fishing Expo the first week of March in Oklahoma City. It seems he hopes to use the buck to spread the word on hunting as a form of stress relief for other soldiers too.

“I myself suffer from some post deployment things and I think this deer might be a good platform to help other people with that,” Ocker told ABC 7 News. “I’ve already had friends that suffer from the same elements that have actually started bow hunting. I mean these are guys that couldn’t leave the house.”

2016 was certainly a great year for big bucks across the nation. Congrats on an awesome buck Travis!

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