Eight years ago, Chris Jeffries and Bobby Doriot went to the National Archery in Schools Program National Tournament in Louisville to talk to coaches about starting an archery program at Scottsburg Middle School. Since that meeting, Jeffries and Doriot have watched the program grow with state-qualifying and national-qualifying student archers and expanded archery programs at Scottsburg High School, at Lexington Elementary School, at Vienna-Finley Elementary School, and at Johnson Elementary School.
“It’s really taken off,” Jeffries said.
Before that initial meeting at the National competition, Jeffries and Doriot noticed a need for the archery program after seeing students who did not participate in the standard sports categories of basketball, baseball, track, tennis, softball, and volleyball. This issue coupled with a large number of people, who enjoy hunting and fishing in this region, made the case that an archery program would be a good fit for the school district.
“It gives a lot of kids, who wouldn’t be involved in other sports, an opportunity to be involved,” Doriot said.
The pair of archery coaches took the idea to Principal Kristin Nass and the Scott County School District 2 Board of Education for approval. To start the program, Jeffries and Doriot applied for a grant from the National Wild Turkey Federation for equipment to start the program at SMS.
“Our first year, we had 150 kids,” Jeffries said.
Each year, the program continues to have large numbers but only 48 students make the two SMS archery teams. The students in the program have to maintain their grades in order to stay in the program while attending practices and competitions.
“Archery helps the kids to keep their grades up,” Jeffries said. “We’re the biggest team in the whole school.”
Each year, the coaches work with the students in hope to have both teams to qualify for the state competition. The scores the teams receive at the state competition determine if the archers as a team or as individuals move onto the national competition in Louisville. This year’s state competition is March 11.
“We’ve qualified every year,” Doriot said.
Since that first set of equipment, the SMS archery program has expanded with the help of selling concessions at track meets and a grant from the National Rifle Association. The archery program is not an official Indiana High School Athletic Association sport; archery is a club sport according to IHSAA.
“I hope the IHSAA starts recognizing it as a sport,” Jeffries said about the future of the program.
Even though archery is only recognized as a club sport, the expansion of the program has not slowed at Scott 2 or across the state. Now, students as early as fourth and fifth grade have the opportunity to see if archery is something they would like try and even continue with through middle and high school.
“We’re excited about it,” Doriot said. “Now, people are going to come to us who have shot before [in these elementary programs].”
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