Archery big hit with area’s youth
By Kevin Garcia
The Brownsville Herald
Standing shoulder to shoulder with archers from across Texas, Robert Villarreal of Monterrey, Mexico, knocked his arrow on the bow, drew it, anchored it below his chin and let a shot fly toward the target.
His mom was so proud.
“They have an aptitude for this,” Norma Villarreal said of 9-year-old Robert and his older brothers Benjamin and Reynold, ages 12 and 10, respectively.
The Villarreals are competing along with 36 other archers between the ages of 6 and 17 at the Texas State Junior Olympic Archery Development Target Championship, which wraps up today.
They participated in the long-distance competition on Saturday and will compete in the short-distance competition from 9 a.m. to noon today next to the Red Roof Inn off Expressway 77/83.
The outdoor tournament is being hosted by the Cameron County JOAD, an organization founded seven years ago to encourage children to participate in archery.
Charles Leal of Brownsville, the president of the local organization, said archery is misunderstood.
“People think of it as a physical thing but this is a mental game,” Leal said. “To a child that takes on this sport, the benefit is the personal challenge. It offers them more focus.”
Greg Garcia, the organization’s secretary, added that a lot of people are unaware of the opportunities available to archers, such as college scholarships.
“Archery is an Olympic event that kids don’t get a lot of exposure to,” Garcia said. “I’ve been shooting archery myself for about 20 years. It’s something that you can do forever.”
Many archers and their families agree.
“There is a lot of satisfaction because it is a one-person sport,” Norma Villarreal said. “In other sports you depend on a team, in archery it is just you, your arrow and the target.”
Robert added, “I like archery because it is a very beautiful sport, and I like to travel places for competition.”
The travel aspect was as much of a draw for parents as it was for competitors such as parents of 15-year-old Port Lavaca archer Andrea Garner.
“We’ve traveled all over Texas with this, and she’ll represent Texas in the 4-H national competition in New Mexico in July,” said her father Dale Garner. “None of us knew anything about archery before, and it was good for us to learn together.”
For the archers, though, the thrill of the sport is what brings them back day after day — not the travel.
“It’s fun and I like it better than other sports,” said 12-year-old Megan Lesak of Victoria.