Young archers make friends through sport

Saturday, August 2, 2008 | 9:43 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA - The sound of a whistle pierces the air on a hot Saturday morning. A crowd of 75 competitors crosses the damp grassy area of Stephens Lake Park towards the archery targets.

Three boys in the Cubs Division walk the 30 yards to see their accuracy for the last six arrows each boy shot. Upon approaching the target, the boys pull out their arrows as they call out points for Kim Wilson to record on their scoring sheets.

Kim Wilson, of Lewistown, writes down the scores and then walks back to the shooting area with her son, Connor Wilson, 8, and his friends.

"It's fun, and very challenging," Kim Wilson says about archery. "It's a self-improvement sport."

She says not only are the boys competing against each other, but also their own previous shots. Both of her sons, Chase Wilson, 13, and Connor are involved in archery. They practice with their 4-H club in Lewistown. This is Connor Wilson's first year participating in the Show-Me State Games.

"I like going to competitions because it's fun trying to win," Connor says.

Kim Wilson says she likes having her sons involved in the sport because it gives them an opportunity to meet other kids.

"The boys meet a lot of different people at the shoots, and we often see the same people at different shoots," Kim Wilson says. "It's a way to develop relationships."

The whistle blows again, signaling the start of another round. Connor and his opponents, Hunter Berry, 12, and Drew McCutchan, 11, approach the white line to begin shooting.

Hunter, of Sarcoxie, steps up to the line to shoot first. He says he has been shooting arrows since he was 3. He has participated in several archery competitions, but this is his first year at the Show-Me State Games.

"I like shooting with different groups of people, because I like making new friends," Berry says.

Though Berry has just met Connor and Drew, the boys get along like old friends.

Drew, of Monticello, practices archery at the 4-H club with Connor. He and Hunter take turns shooting their arrows at the target.

"I just like shooting and having fun, and sometimes winning," Drew says with a laugh.

When the last round of the 30-yard category is over, Hunter tallies the scores.

"You got a 274," Hunter tells Drew. "I got a 285."

"I'm going to dominate and make a 300," Connor says before starting the first round of the 20-yard competition.

"No you're not," Hunter and Drew say in unison.

"You wish you're going to make a 300," Hunter says.

Connor does not get discouraged, despite the doubts from the older boys. Instead, he picks up his bow and reaches for an arrow from his quiver.

"Don't forget to change your sight," Drew's father reminds the boys.

The sight on the compound bow, when set correctly, allows the archer to have better accuracy.

Connor looses his arrow, and it lands higher on the target he wants.

"Connor, are you using your middle pin?" Kim Wilson asks her son.

"Yeah," Connor replies. "I was trying out different spots because at 30, I was in the black. Now, I'm aiming for the yellow."

The three boys continue shooting into the afternoon, each hoping to win.


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