Challenging Oneself In Archery, or
by Tom Barker
In the 4H program in District 11 in Texas the project leaders have
tried to create an atmosphere where the youth archers can challenge
themselves and become masters of themselves, what is known as Compos Sui.
There is a class for 8 and under archers called clover kids where they
shoot 5 ends of three arrows for participation only. They all get an award
that says champion.
The 8 to12 year olds are separated out by bow type (barebow, recurve, and
compound), and then by gender (open and female), and finally by talent. We
have a graduation scale set up to challenge the kids as they become more
proficient. The 8-12 year olds start at 9 meters for 30 arrows. Once they
shoot a score of 250 out of a possible 300 we graduate these Beginner
Sub-juniors to the Intermediate Sub-juniors, where they then shoot 30
arrows at 18 meters.
Intermediates post a 200 out of a possible 300, then they are again
graduated to Advanced sub-juniors where they shoot 60 arrows. Many of
these advanced sub-juniors have further challenged themselves once they
shoot a 500 out of a possible 600 and will shoot up in age division to
find similar talent competitors. They are also considerate to not beat up
on those that are progressing behind them. They are truly trying to be
masters of themselves.
Juniors are age 13-14 while Seniors are 15-18. All Juniors and Seniors
shoot at 18 meters, Junior recurves using the 60cm target and the Seniors
and all compounds using the 40 cm target.
It may be useful to help the reader understand why District 11 4H has an
open and females division but no "males" only division. At the State 4H
level there is only one gender division for the State 4H Indoor and State
4H Outdoor matches. The state matches separate out by bow type and age,
but not gender. In other words, the boys and girls compete against each
other. The reason the state shooting sports gives for this practice is
so that there is no discrimination against any of the kids based on
gender. In District 11 the project leaders felt that they needed a
separate division for the young ladies. They felt that if they were to
have just an open division they would run off some of the girls,
especially at the beginner levels. In sort of an affirmative action
compromise the leaders created two divisions, female and open. The reason
that they called it "open" and not "male" was so that in the event a
talented female archer wanted to challenge herself, she could compete in
the open division against the males. In other words, they would not
discriminate against the young lady if she wanted to shoot against the
guys. Also, frequently the young ladies find themselves in a division of
one and rather than just buying an award will enter in the open division.
The tournament planners end up with multiple shooting times to accommodate
all the kids but will not let a youngster shoot the same division more
than once in order to pick up a first and second in the same event. The
kids are more than welcome to shoot up a division in age or a different
bow type if they want to shoot multiple times. (Can't shoot down though.)
The leaders also do not let a young lady shoot in both the female and open
classes within the same bow and age group. The primary reason is that if
we did we would in effect be reverse discriminating against the gentleman
archers who would not be allowed to shoot in the female divisions.
Furthermore, we limit the 12 and under archers to no more than 60 arrows
per day to prevent injury.
The results have been very rewarding in the three years since these
practices were adopted. Participation is up, particularly in the young
ladies. In addition, the youth archers are to be complimented for their
fine shooting and challenging themselves by seeking out the best
competition. Many times that self-challenge is at the longer distance,
smaller target, higher age group or all three. The kids have much better
skills than those that shot just a few years ago. They shoot higher scores
at an earlier age than has been seen in the past. A very small part is
better equipment. Some is due to better coaching.
By and large the difference is the kids challenging
themselves and there is no substitute for tournament experience. It is one
of the reasons District 11 4H kids do so well at a state, national and now