Jaden Bowman--Eagle Staff Writer
The Franklin County High School Archery Team is gearing up for their upcoming state tournament in Doswell, Virginia at Meadow Event Park. “We’ll have a state tournament in March [and] we’re hoping to do one in December,” stated Jean Capps, the coach of the team.
Many may not be aware that FCHS has been involved with archery for quite some time. “We’ve been doing archery here at Franklin County High School for 15 years,” said Capps. She explained that Heather McAnder, a former teacher at FCHS, was “instrumental in getting archery approved through the school board so that we could have an archery team.” In addition to Coach Capps, Billy Thurman, an outdoorsman who worked with the National Wild Turkey Federation, has assisted the team for many years as well.
This year's archery team has approximately 20 members and includes experienced archers and newcomers. Archery is unusual in that male and female students compete together. "Archery is a 50/50 sport - 50% male and 50% female and they shoot together on the same line,” highlighted Layla Willie, a junior at FCHS.
In the tournament, two participants shoot at a target simultaneously. “Then we do 3D target shooting as well. They shoot a turkey, a wild boar, deer, big horned sheep, antelope, and white-tailed deer,” Capps explained. Archers receive points based on how close to the center they shoot.
Of course, high scores require the right gear and plenty of practice. The team trains on Matthews Genesis Bows and as Capps noted, “We provide everything you need. If you shoot left handed or right handed, we have a bow for you.” Their training sessions usually consist of several rounds of shooting at a target from both 10 and 15 meters away.
The equipment is not cheap though; each bow costs $190. That’s why the archery team will be selling strawberries in spring in order to raise funds for each team member to be able to have a bow. Capps elaborated that if students would like to support the team, they can do so by purchasing strawberries and by “coming and joining us and being part of the team.”
Capps explained that archery has many upsides. “Not only does archery serve as a team sport here at school…but it also gives students the opportunity to be together as a team, to work together as a team and develop skills that they can use outside of school."
For Willie, the team means a chance to support others. “I love the opportunity to help and encourage others. Last year I was a co-captain with Braelynn Pruitt,” explained Willie.
There are other benefits, too. Being on the team can help strengthen hunting skills along with teamwork skills that are needed for real world situations. Kolby Dudley, a junior at FCHS, explained the reason he joined the team was that he “grew up hunting and fishing and archery deer season is a big part of my life.”
Whatever their background, experience level, or motivation, Capps wants all students to know there's a place for them in FCHS archery. “It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, how you are… [archery] is open to everybody.”