Power point

Oklahoma club’s archery event attracts children from nearly a dozen schools.

Story by Brett A. Halbleib
Photos by Steve Sisney

Kiwanis International
Sebastian Sneed waits for the first round of the On Target with Kiwanis Archery Shoot in Lawton, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney

Rafael Santos says when children hear about archery, they typically respond, “I want to do that too.” Trouble is, they don’t often hear about archery.

The Kiwanis Club of Lawton, Oklahoma, is changing that. The club’s “On Target with Kiwanis Archery Shoot,” an event for children of ages 8 to 18, attracted 167 archers from 11 schools, some a couple hours away. The shoot was made possible by a Kiwanis International Foundation grant and contributions from Oklahoma businesses. A Key Club helped out with concessions and registration.

The event was a natural for Santos, who is president of the Lawton Kiwanis Club and an archery instructor. He sees archery as an option for children who aren’t necessarily baseball/football/basketball types.

Kiwanis International
Eighth grader Alfredo Sanchez counts his points with a judge as he competes in one round of the On Target with Kiwanis Archery Shoot in Lawton, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney

“It gives students a different avenue to call a sport their own. You don’t have to be the biggest or fastest kid to play.”

The shoot was part of the (US) National Archery in the Schools Program, which promotes archery in schools’ curricula. Santos is an advocate, noting archery forces students to learn focus and concentration—skills that extend to the classroom. Santos has seen rambunctious students transform after spending time on the range.

Students themselves agree: Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in 2009 said archery helped them pay attention better when learning other things.

Participant Kenzie Weber described the Kiwanis shoot as “kind of exciting.” She shot a 257 out of 300, which didn’t surprise Santos, who coaches Kenzie on the archery team at Flower Mound School in Lawton. When Kenzie first started archery, she was “happy to hit the target.” Now, Santos says, Kenzie’s upset if she doesn’t score a 9 or 10 for each arrow (10 is the maximum). “She’s one of my top shooters,” he says.

The Lawton Kiwanis members want more children to share Kenzie’s experience. With the Kiwanis International Foundation grant, the club was able to buy 30 Genesis compound bows, 100 arrows and 15 targets. After the shoot, they donated most of the equipment to schools to launch archery programs.

Santos is talking with Lawton officials about creating an archery league. The Kiwanis club made a down payment for this year’s shoot, which might expand to two days, since so many more children have now heard of archery.

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