The Forge Ridge archery team headed back to the state tournament on April 5 at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro. With a team that had 24 members last year, the Dragons just missed qualifying for the national tournament and they were anxious to see if they could reach their goal this season.
Coach Sheri Schatz, a parent volunteer, has two teams featuring 41 shooters from fourth- through eighth-grades and they are currently divided into both elementary and middle school teams. The students began practicing the very first week of school and have shown great dedication to their shooting by attending practices two days a week until recently, when they have increased to four days a week and they also attend clinics on Saturdays and participate in the local Centershot program on Fridays.
When the team first assembled they had lots of misses but each shooter has improved steadily and Schatz believed in her heart that the team could qualify for the national tournament to be held in Louisville, Ky.
“We have days that we just shoot so well and then days that we do not. I know that if we shoot as well as they are capable of that we’ll make the national tournament,” said Schatz.
This team is self-funded and all of the members participated in the annual candle sales but this year they had some extra help from Birdsongs, a band from West Jacksboro that played during their lock-in and helped them raise over $900.
Along with these fundraising efforts, the parents have stepped up with some needed financing along the way.
“What can I say? We have some great parents that simply go out of their way to help us in any way that we ask them to,” she said.
After the competition, the teams had to wait on the results. Monday afternoon, Schatz was told her Forge Ridge team placed fourth out of the 20 middle schools competing — narrowly missing qualifying for nationals by 16 points.
However, Forge Ridge will have at least one archer to go to the national event, Abby Dishner. Dishner finished first overall in the sixth grade competition.
“The state archery officials stated that they had never seen anything like our kids before, as some of our kids would gather hands and pray between shooting,” Schatz added.
The National Archery in the Schools Program has been a leader in teaching kids the sport of archery and with their help along with coaches like Sheri Schatz the program is growing at leaps and bounds.