When it comes to shooting with a bow and arrow, the concept seems simple.
“The point of the arrow, that’s where you’re aiming,” explained Fernando Luna, 10. “If the arrow’s too hard to pull, you probably have to aim a little higher.”
And maybe magic happens.
“If you get lucky, you can get a bulls eye,” said Collin Sandoval, 9.
Laura Valley, physical education teacher at Fritsch Elementary School taught an archery unit in October to the school’s fourth- and fifth-graders.
Students interested in taking their skill to a competition level have been practicing evenings to compete against others in the state.
And while it may not be as easy as just pointing the arrow at the target, Valley said, it gives students an alternative way to be active.
“It reaches a different group of kids than more traditional sports,” she said. “I would not have guessed about half of these kids would be here. It’s something they enjoy and something different.”
It’s part of Valley’s focus on teaching students not just team sports, but activities they can do on their own, such as biking, hiking and snowshoeing.
“I want to set them up for a more active lifestyle,” she said.
The state competition will be Feb. 8 in Las Vegas. Students unable to attend the competition — which includes the bulk of Valley’s students — will compete locally then send their scores in to be tallied. Valley’s students have taken second and third places in their two years of competition.
Jett Rupert, 10, is hoping to follow his older sister Keela’s arrow.
“She did this, and she took third place,” he said. “I’m practicing, and I’m getting really good. My sister is teaching me and my dad is teaching me.”
Valley’s husband, John, a retired Carson High School chemistry and outdoor education teacher, helps his wife coach in the evenings.
“I love getting kids involved in sports that are untraditional,” he said. “I’m 57, and I still shoot a bow and arrow.”
He sees the opportunities the children can have.
“It’s something you can be as competitive in as you want to be — it’s an Olympic sport,” he said. “The archery community is very open. The more the merrier.”
Until then, Alexis Zurate, 10, and his teammates will keep practicing.
“I’m trying to aim more up,” he said. “That’ll improve my score.”