September 20, 2013

Bull’s eye! Myrtle Beach area archery club gives kids something to aim for

Archers in the Myrtle Beach area have had Saturday circled on their calendar with a bull’s eye.

Archers in the Myrtle Beach area have had Saturday circled on their calendar with a bull’s eye.

The Sandune Archery Club, which celebrated 50 years in 2012, will have its “Archery for Kids Day” 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the club’s home base inside Horry County’s Socastee Recreation Park, 7485 Butler Road, off Enterprise Road.

Geared to ages 8-19, this special day will give everyone who registers – however, signup ends at 1:30 p.m. – basic instruction on archery safety and how to shoot a Genesis bow, with three rounds on a 10-target, 3D course, and one time through a paper target line shoot from 10 and 15 meters. This is not a tournament, but just for fun.

Kelly Rogers, president of the club, said with more than 90 members, they range in age from 10 or 11 to about 60. Involvement with the National Archery in the Schools Program (www.archeryintheschools.org) also has racked up points with youth, he said, citing high schools such as Conway, Georgetown, North Myrtle Beach, St. James and Socastee where students have found a new hobby.

Rogers said the sport of shooting with a bow and arrow takes “a different type of muscle memory.”

Since first hunting with a bow at age 15, then being convinced by a friend to enter a 3D tournament when the club operated in old hangars on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, “I’ve been hooked since,” Rogers said.

Sandune members – young and older – travel across the state for tournaments, which draw hundreds of archers, Rogers said. He counted about a dozen clubs statewide.

“People don’t realize how big archery is in the state and the country,” he said.

Attending NASP’s national tourney in May in Kentucky, for which his girlfriend’s grandson qualified, floored Rogers.

“They would have 600 kids shoot a time,” he said, still excited at seeing thousands of youth engaged.

‘Goals to reach for’

Rogers sees archery resembling other sports in various facets because it takes discipline and a devotion. Like other sports, archery also generates fellowship and “gives you goals to reach for.”

Like students of martial arts encounter in their sport melding mind and body in execution, archery takes patience and practice.

“If you want to get better at it,” Rogers said, “you have to practice it.”

Along with the club teaching children the basics of archery with a heavy accent on safety, and several tournaments every year on site, Rogers said he’s glad to see trends of more schools making the sport an option for students.

Rogers finds his passion for shooting as the greatest takeaway from archery.

“With a bow, it’s hard to explain the feeling you get out of it,” he said. “If you’re shooting at a target, you get fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment. It gives you more self confidence.”

Rogers stressed how vital keeping confident in yourself remains in shooting and that the sport engulfs its participants, because it requires gauging the yardage to strike the target.

“Then you have to be able to be good enough to hit what you’re aiming at,” he said. “It’s not just pulling your bow back and shooting.”

Scoring with youth

Smiling at the thought of his girlfriend’s grandson, age 11, Rogers said the boy has shot with him “a little bit,” for about six years.

“He never really had an interest in being on a school team,” Rogers said. “He just wanted to shoot in a 3D tournament. Then he came home from school one time, and things changed. ...

“With kids, if you see when they do well, you can see it in their faces.”

Phil Griggs, Sandune’s bowhunter director, agreed. At home with archery since receiving his first bow from his father on a Christmas 30 years ago, he said “there was no science” to the sport back then, but advances in technology, coupled with good shooting instructors, and other promotion from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, have taken it to new levels across the Palmetto State.

With the club’s headquarters in Socastee for several years, it’s a good central location for families across Horry County, especially with access to S.C. 31 so close off S.C. 544, Griggs said.

Archery lets youngsters build their self-esteem, Griggs said, noting the activity’s most valuable point.

“It gives them the feeling, ‘I can do this.’ ” he said.

Shawn Dixon, the club’s secretary and webmaster, said since he joined the club three years ago at his family’s urging for their child’s interest, the outreach with festivals has enthused him.

“Our goal has been getting out into the community rather than just hoping the community will come to us,” Dixon said.

Seeing children enjoy getting to try out a bow and arrow, and shooting, he said, might represent “a small portion of what we do, but that’s the part that’s most rewarding.”

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