Four of the best young archers in Georgia are competing in the National Shooting Sports Challenge in San Antonio, Texas, this week. And they’re not only from Georgia, they’re from Bulloch County.
Last month, more than 500 archers from across the state were at Camp Rock Eagle in Eatonton for the state 4-H Target Challenge and Bulloch’s Senior Division archery team came out on top. In only its second year, the local team placed in three divisions and is representing the state in the national competition for the compound bow discipline.
Among the Bulloch teams, the Cloverleaf division (grades fifth through sixth) finished second, the Junior division (grades seventh through eighth) placed third, and the Senior (grades nine through 12) team finished first to punch their ticket to the National Shooting Sports Challenge event.
“They’ll stay strong [the Seniors], but we have no idea what the other competition will be like,” said Carl Greene, second year head coach of the team. “Georgia always does well at nationals, so, for us to win the state championship means we should be really strong.”
The team left for Texas Saturday and began competing Monday. Archers will shoot each day with the finals for the national championship being held on Friday.
Consisting of members Jacob Hendrix, Sawyer Davis, Jonathan Hall and Walker Blitch, the Bulloch team competes in various compound bow events including a field round of black and white targets at different distances, angles and elevations, a 3-D round of diverse animal targets and the FITA round based on the International Archery Federation standards set out for the Olympics.
Along with assistant coaches Sophie Greene, Tim Cooper and Eddie Turner, Carl Greene has been preparing the boys for this event all year.
“It’s a high level of competition,” Carl Greene said about the event. “They’ve been to the big state match, but that’s the biggest thing they’ve ever been too. [We] have to prepare them so that it doesn’t overwhelm them when they get there and there are hundreds of people there.”
The boys on the team are excited and confident about their chances.
Sawyer Davis, a first year team member, said, “I’ve never been anywhere out west, so I’m looking forward to the trip. It’s my first year of shooting like this, and it’s been difficult learning everything in a short amount of time, never really done anything like this before.”
Although individual honors can be achieved in these events, as Macallin Thomas took first place in Cloverleaf along with Blitch and Hall taking fifth and sixth places respectively in the Senior division of the state competition, the archers have learned that in order to win it all, they must win as a team.
Hall, a senior, said, “There’s a lot more shooting at nationals and teamwork is very important. You can’t win it alone. We all have to support each other.”
Georgia won the previous 4-H archery competition and the Statesboro team looks to continue the state’s winning tradition.
“I don’t expect them to give it away, but I’m going to the tournament to dominate,” Hall said.