Pictured: First Row – L to R - Haden Mick, Macaden Taylor, Hazel Riley, Tess Kiner, Haley Spencer, Rayna Smith. Second Row - L to R - TD Sparks, Jesse Bostic, Max Ervine, Silas Riley, Maria Workman, Conner Spencer, Frankie Burgess. Third Row – L to R - Jody Spencer, Bob Simmons, Becky Spencer
Archery is a great equalizer, regardless of size, gender, age, athletic ability or disability. Jody and Becky Spencer should know. They are volunteer instructors with West Virginia’s DNR Archery in the Schools (AIS) program in Pocahontas County.
“We have small, younger girls who outshoot larger athletic boys. We have kids who are unable to do other sports because of health issues, but excel at archery, and we have younger siblings who finally beat an older brother at something. We have kids who never seem to be the star of the family but shine big in archery and outdo their siblings,” Jody Spencer said.
The Marlinton Elementary team from Pocahontas County recently won the state tournament in Charleston and now advance to the Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. to participant in the National Archery in the Schools tournament May 8-10.
“They won. The kids are psyched. They should be. They worked hard, practiced, stayed positive and it paid off,” Spencer said.
“In AIS, kids learn an activity they can do for the rest of their lives. They can shoot all year long, with friends, siblings or their parents. They can become bow hunters or simply stick with target archery. The amount of support this program has received in Pocahontas County is amazing. People truly understand how important AIS is to the kids. I’m sure other volunteers and parents will say the same in other schools in West Virginia.”
The Spencers, along with Bob and Heather Simmons, started the archery program this year and had 45 kids finish the season. The team has participants from each of the five schools in the county representing grades 4 through 11.
The Ninth Annual Archery in the Schools State Tournament was held at the Charleston Civic Center March 29. This year, 468 archers from 43 schools across West Virginia competed for top honors, according to AIS State Coordinator Krista Snodgrass with the WVDNR Wildlife Resources Section.
Jody Spencer is superintendent of the Greenbrier River Trail State Park and his wife Becky teaches at Marlinton Elementary. Many state parks serve as training locations for teachers and volunteers to become AIS instructors. To learn more about AIS, visit wvdnr.gov. The state parks website is www.wvstateparks.com.
About Archery in the Schools in West Virginia and the State Tournament
The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources hosted the Ninth Annual West Virginia Archery in the Schools program state tournament March 29 at the Charleston Civic Center. Participants had to compete in the qualifying virtual tournament and be in the top 30 as an individual or in the top six teams in each division to compete at the state tournament.
West Virginia has 30 individuals and 16 teams qualified to participate in the NASP national tournament to be held May 9-10 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. For complete list of winners from this year’s tournament, visit the Archery in the Schools website www.wvdnr.gov/archery.
“Several wildlife organizations and WVDNR Wildlife and Law Enforcement staff assisted to make this year’s state archery tournament a success. Without their assistance, a tournament of this magnitude would not be possible,” said Snodgrass.
The West Virginia AIS Program continues to gain popularity and growth. Since the program was implemented in 2004, there are now more than 300 participating schools in the AIS Program. By the end of this year it is estimated that more than 85,000 West Virginia students will have been introduced to archery through this program.
WV Archery in the School Teams Advancing to Nationals May 8 – 10, 2014
Teams that automatically advance are the first tier, first place winners Marlinton Elementary (Pocahontas County), Shady Spring Middle School (Raleigh County), and Ripley High School (Jackson County). Other teams in West Virginia that qualified based on score but are not guaranteed participation include:
· Clendenin Elementary (Kanawha County)
· Peterstown Elementary (Monroe County)
· Chesapeake Elementary (Kanawha County)
· Buckhannon-Upshur Middle (Upshur County)
· Ripley Middle (Jackson County)
· Winfield Middle (Putnam County)
· Elkview Middle (Kanawha County)
· Peterstown Middle (Monroe County)
· Shady Spring High (Raleigh County)
· Buckhannon-Upshur High (Upshur County)
· Cabell Midland High (Cabell County)
· Herbert Hoover High (Kanawha County)
· Pickens (Randolph County)