At first it was uncertain how the school administrators and board would take the request to form such a team, according to Schatz.
“Thankfully, Forge Ridge principal Marty Cosby liked the idea and supported it fully once the issue of safety was addressed,” she said. “After clearing the first hurdle it was on to seek the approval of the Claiborne County School Board.”
The idea was approved once the board had their safety concerns addressed as well, and the rest is history.
The team was formed and practice began. The kids’ first introduction to archery in the school was through a math class. Math teacher Christy Brooks knew of Schatz’s love of archery and asked her if she would bring her bow and arrow to class in order to show and teach her students about ratios. The visual aid was an overwhelming success and the students were immediately drawn to archery.
With everything in place all that was left was practice, practice, practice. Not only does Schatz teach the foundation of archery she also teaches discipline and safety. Her archery team is very disciplined and will not even attempt to pick up a dropped arrow unless given the all-clear signal.
In competition, archers shoot at two different distances, 10 and 15 meters. The bows are Matthews-Genesis, which are very adjustable and grow with the young shooters. The competition specifies a 20-pound draw weight with zero let-off. No sights are used but the kids are instructed to use the end of the arrow as a sight and to find the “happy spot” that yields the desired effect on target. The team is part of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), which is a long time supporter of the sport of archery and is also its governing body.
The team received funding through several grants and donations. Matthews Bows, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, NASP and the Claiborne County School Board and parents all helped with product or financial donations.
The team just attended their first tournament at Murfreesboro, Tenn., at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum on Tuesday, April 3. Their goal was 2,900 points, which would automatically qualify them to attend the Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky in May. Although they fell just short of their target score they did manage a top-ten finish.
Team sharpshooters Abby Dishner and Taylor Williams, along with the rest of the team, would like to thank Coach Schatz for all her hard work and efforts. The team members also have several people to thank including Principal Cosby, the school board, East End Pawn Shop, Rigsby’s Bait and Tackle and all the parents.
The team’s unofficial motto is, “We shoot to glorify God,” and they begin each practice with a prayer.
Another goal of the program is to help introduce the sport into other area schools including high schools. The program attracts all kinds of kids including the athletes of other school sports as well as the academically gifted.
“We had a few members that didn’t work together well at first but we have made the team a solid unit and we all cheer for each other now,” said Coach Schatz. “We want the team to succeed and the kids have bought into this idea wholeheartedly.”
Schatz is pleased with the team’s first tournament showing.
“There were approximately 1200 students. They were awesome for only six weeks of practice,” she said after the competition. “What impressed me is their interest in seeing other teams getting awards. I’ve never seen kids with such admiration. They cheered other teams on and supported them from their heart. They were just happy to be there, shooting to glorify their Lord.”