Locked and loaded, three Fallon archers are ready to put their skills on display on the biggest stage.
Case and Faith Cornmesser and Broder Thurston head to Lousiville, Ky., for the 2014 National Archery in Schools Program national tournament. They are three of 19 from the Fallon team to qualify for nationals, and the only local competitors, along with coach Dean Schultz, leave today for the Bluegrass state.
Their journey begins today as the three prepare for what Schultz said is expected to be a world record for largest archery tournament with 10,000 youth shooters embarking to Lousiville for Saturday’s competition.
“Nobody is ever prepared to walk in to the Kentucky Exposition Center,” Schultz said. “I don’t know what to compare it to. There are over 150 targets lined up against the wall. It’s huge.”
Case Cornmesser and Thurston, though, are a first-year shooters, while Faith Cornmesser is making her second trip to Kentucky for nationals.
Schultz, though, expects high scores from Faith Cornmesser and Thurston as the two both shot better than 280 at the state meet in Las Vegas in February. A perfect score is 300.
Thurston said he expects to improve on his score from state where he netted a mark of 273.
“I just relax and don’t really think of it as much,” Thurston said.
“I want to do better than I did in Vegas,” Faith Cornmesser added. “I just need to do as best as I can.”
Case Cornmesser said he was thrilled to qualify for nationals, and his goal is to score at least 270.
“(I need) to focus and be relaxed,” he said.
Fallon entered the state tournament as the two-time defending champ, but settled for second. Jordan Schultz recorded the second-highest total in the tournament with 288 points, three behind the winner.
At nationals, though, the threesome will compete in two events including a 3D shoot.
Although the archers will not compete until Saturday, Dean Schultz has organized several activities throughout the week. The group will be treated to a tour of the University of Louisville athletic facilities thanks to Fallon native and current Cardinals assistant coach Chris Klenakis.
They will also visit the zoo, zip line at the caverns, the world’s longest go-kart track and possibly the Louisville Slugger plant.
Schultz began the program five years ago and now the numbers reach about 90. He teaches three classes at Churchill County High School and also holds practices for middle and elementary school archers twice per week from November through the national tournament.
Many of the shooters, though, practice at home. In rural town with deep hunting roots, Schultz said a “majority” of his shooters are not hunters.
“A lot of parents call and ask where I can get a bow and how to keep them going,” Schultz said. “It’s a year-round thing. It’s awesome.”
Schultz said next year he will teach a fourth class and even has one shooter from Fernley who practices with the team. Even though Fernley does not have its own team, the child cannot compete for Fallon.
But the biggest reason for the explosion in popularity can be traced to the written word and now two major motion pictures.
Schultz said the allure of “The Hunger Games” is a driving force behind the increase in participation.
The heroine of the triology is Katniss Everdeen, who uses a bow and arrow to survive the games and is the catalyst for revolution.
“I believe that, I really do,” Dean Schultz said. “I would like to think it’s because I am a great coach. I think it’s that movie. We had a huge influx (after the release). I’ll take them anyway I can get them.”