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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Nashua North club takes aim at archery’s popularity

NASHUA – In The Hunger Games trilogy, heroine Katniss Everdeen uses a bow and arrow to feed her family, and fight her competitors.

In The Walking Dead, they’re used against zombies. The Avengers’ Hawkeye uses his bow and arrow to fight off hoards of enemies bent on attacking the United States. ...

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NASHUA – In The Hunger Games trilogy, heroine Katniss Everdeen uses a bow and arrow to feed her family, and fight her competitors.

In The Walking Dead, they’re used against zombies. The Avengers’ Hawkeye uses his bow and arrow to fight off hoards of enemies bent on attacking the United States.

At Nashua High School North, the traditional hunting tool is used for a very different goal: recreation.

One of the high schools’ newest clubs, the Archery Club brings together about 20 students every Wednesday afternoon for target practice, sometimes shooting in the auditorium or a large classroom, a practice that will soon move to the woods behind the school thanks to warming weather.

“You’re definitely seeing a lot of archery in Hollywood now and on TV, I think that has helped get a lot of members,” said club organizer Katelin Hogan-Hines, a North freshman. “When the club first started, almost no one had done this before. Pretty much everyone just said they saw it on TV.”

Hogan-Hines started the Archery Club at the start of this school year, and after weeks of safety meetings with club members and school leaders, the club started target practice just a few weeks ago.

Now, Wednesday afternoons bring the sound of arrows flying swiftly through the air, and, for Hogan-Hines, a chance to share the sport she loves.

While her classmates may have joined because of an interest to learn more about archery, it was a love for the sport and a desire to someday compete in the Olympics that drove her to form the club.

Hogan-Hines was first introduced to archery several years ago, after spending weeks during the summer at her grandmother’s Iowa farm.

“I would shoot this bow while I was there, and then come back and not have the equipment,” she said.

After three or four years of this, she decided to become more active in the sport, practicing on her own and getting professional advice.

Now, she’s part of the Junior Olympic Archery Development program, and hopes to start an archery team at Nashua North, someday competing in the Olympic Games.

For Hogan-Hines, who said she has never been that interested in sports, archery offers a new kind of competition.

“With archery, it’s just you against yourself,” she said. “It’s just you and your bow. You can just focus, you don’t have to worry about messing up, because it only affects yourself.”

Last summer, as Hogan-Hines was preparing to enter Nashua North, she called the school to see if they had an archery club. There wasn’t one, so the freshman set to work to changing that almost immediately after walking through the doors.

It was surprisingly easy to find students interested in joining, she said, thanks to the popularity of archery in movies and TV shows. Making target practice at the school a reality, however, took a little longer.

“It’s actually amazingly safe because of the protocols that are in place,” said Principal David Ryan. “Any archer who breaks those protocols is not permitted to participate.”

Hogan-Hines had to receive special permission from Ryan to hold target practice with the club. Each student involved had to sign a release form, and participate in weeks of safety meetings.

During all target practice at the school, the
Concord-based company Archery in Motion supplies equipment and provides oversight to the club, ensuring that all safety precautions are taken.

When the students shoot, they shoot at targets placed in front of a floor to ceiling safety net that catches any arrows that miss their targets.

If target practice moves outside this spring, the same steps will be taken there.

“We take all the safety precautions,” Hogan-Hines said. “I stress that upon the club members a lot.”

District policy prohibits weapons from being used, or even possessed, on school property. However, the policy does state that exceptions can be made.

And Ryan said that the bows and arrows used for archery club are such an exception. In fact, physical education curriculums in New Hampshire and around the country have included archery for years, he said.

“We’re not breaking any new ground here,” Ryan said. “I just think that as security and fear grew over time, when there seemed to be more widespread violence, people got away from using (archery) as part of the curriculum.”

Ryan said he is happy to see students finding a passion in a somewhat non-traditional sport. Watching Hogan-Hines take on her leadership role in the club, he said, as been particularly rewarding.

“She started out kind of shy, timid, and evolved into a leader of a new club,” he said. “Just to watch her growth as a student, I’ve been blown away by how far she’s come in such a short period.”

For Hogan-Hines, the club has been the opportunity to witness a different kind of growth: the growth of the sport she loves.

And she’s hoping archery will only continue to grow at her high school.

The club is hoping to receive a grant from USA Archery for equipment later this year, and Hogan-Hines said she’s received inquiries from Nashua South students interested in joining the club.

“Most people are into traditional sports, so I was really surprised to see so many join the club,” she said. “It’s really great to know that they have an interest ... I’m really happy that I am able to teach them.”

Danielle Curtis can be reached at 594-6557 or dcurtis@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Curtis
on Twitter (@Telegraph_DC).