Youth target archery competition during fair

HARRINGTON – She eyes her target, aims and… bullseye!

Riley Taylor of the Harrington Sunshines 4-H group prepares to strike his target at the Delaware State Fair. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Riley Taylor of the Harrington Sunshines 4-H group prepares to strike his target at the Delaware State Fair. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Hayden Jackson collects his arrows between turns at the archery competition during the Delaware State Fair. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Hayden Jackson collects his arrows between turns at the archery competition during the Delaware State Fair. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Interest in “shooting sports” has taken off with a bang as one of the most popular activities, according to Delaware 4-H program leader Doug Crouse, with an easily seen presence at the Delaware State Fair not unlike so many other 4-H activities.

Youths interested in archery had the opportunity to show off their skills in the purple lot at the Fairgrounds Friday afternoon alongside their peers.

The statewide archery competition was a culmination of trainings, practices and county-based shoot-offs occurring over the past year. The top ten winners in each of the three age and bow groups earned certificates and a cash prize.

“Archery is a lot of fun,” 12-year-old Carter Sylvester of Felton said. “It’s fun to see the different skill levels. If you have a nicer bow, it’s easy. It you don’t, but you’re still good, you’ve got skill.”

Like many 4-H members, Carter also participates in other 4-H activities while also being a member of the Future Farmers of America.

14-year-old Madison Johnson aims her compound bow at the target during the archery competition at the Delaware State Fair. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

14-year-old Madison Johnson aims her compound bow at the target during the archery competition at the Delaware State Fair. The Chronicle/Jennifer Antonik

Tom O’Hara of Argo’s Corner said the kids love learning new things, especially one that comes with a competitive element like archery.

An archery instructor for the Houston Cardinals 4-H group, he added that safety is always the number one priority.

“It’s a real weapon. It could kill you if you understand it,” he explained.

Mr. O’Hara teaches the youth proper stance and other “fun and fundamentals” to the sport.

“We do a lot of repetition, repetition, repetition… That makes you good. It’s just a fun sport. Once you try it, you’re hooked,” he said.

Madison Johnson understood that concept personally.

The 14-year-old from Selbyville tried the activity when her leader asked if anyone in her 4-H group was interested.

“My friend Connor was doing it and I thought it’d be fun. And it is,” she said of her first year in the sport.

Her mom, Rebecca Johnson, added that she’s very excited her daughter chose to pursue the sport as it branched out from the ‘normal’ 4-H activities.

“I was in 4-H when I was younger, but we [focused] more on animals,” she said. “So I was excited that she reached out into a new area.”

The competition was open to youth 4-H members aged 8-19 years old using recurve and compound bows with safety in mind.

“I’m hoping they get mostly safety out of it,” Mr. O’Hara said. “If you don’t teach any of them, and they get their hands on a weapon, they won’t understand. It could be deadly.”

For youth members like Mr. Sylvester, programs like 4-H and the FFA offer countless others that serve to prepare members for their future, including archery.

“It’s really a good experience. And it’ll be great for finding a job in the future,” he said.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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