Archery is for all ages at Pa. sportsmen's association

March 15, 2004|by DON AINES

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - From a distance of 20 yards, Kyle Gottfried squinted through the peep sight of his Browning Micro Midas 3 compound bow and drew a bead on a 40-centimeter target about the size of a large pizza.

The arrow failed to find the bull's-eye on his 52nd shot of the day, but the center 10-point ring of the paper target, a little bigger than a silver dollar, had been perforated several times already.

"I'm going for 525 today," Gottfried said during a break at the St. Thomas Sportsmen's Association.

Gottfried later expressed some disappointment that he failed to surpass his personal best of 505 points on 60 shots. A perfect score would have been 600, but Gottfried has only been at the sport three years and is just 12 years old.


The James Buchanan Middle School student is looking forward to the day he scores 550 and can compete against adults. Later this year, he will be old enough to go bow hunting with his stepfather, Carl Brown, president of Appleway Archers, the association's archery club.

"He's a phenomenal shot," Jim Kelley, the club's past president, said of Gottfried, a master archer in the bowman class for 10- to 13-year-olds. Kelley's 7-year-old son, Parker, may develop the same level of skill in time, given the fact that he already has been practicing archery for five years.

"You get trophies," Parker said when asked what he liked best about the sport. Parker was working on his 10th on Sunday, along with the 27 medals he has earned.

He also gets to travel, having been to most of the mid-Atlantic and southern states for competitions, according to his mother, Shelbie Kelley.

During the first three months of each year, the association offers weekend indoor shoots that are open to the public, Shelbie Kelley said.

The last youth shoot is set for Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Kids who have never picked up a bow are invited to try their hand on the indoor range and three-dimensional outdoor targets, she said.

"All of our youth shoots are open to the public and are free," Jim Kelley said. That includes equipment and food, he said.

"One of our main emphases is to involve youth," he said.

"It makes him practice more, stay more focused. It gives him confidence," Brown said of the benefits his stepson gets from archery. Unlike football, basketball or other sports, he said archery does not necessarily require great athletic ability.

Kids do not compete directly against each other, according to Shelbie. Instead, they compete against themselves by trying to improve upon their best scores. The club awards a trophy for every 50 points up to 500. After that, because the degree of difficulty increases, the benchmark is 25 points up to the perfect 600.

Brent Diffenderfer, 16, and Tim Chilcote, 13, both of Mercersburg, Pa., had some experience outdoors, but have been honing their skills at the association's indoor range this winter.

Corey Staples, 14, of Fairfield, Pa., has come for three weekends, although he is an experienced bow hunter with two bucks and three does to his credit in two seasons.

Many club members who normally participate in the indoor shoots were away this past weekend, competing in the North American Archery Association indoor championships in Harrisonburg, Va.

Gottfried said he was going to be at the association late Sunday. After the afternoon shoot, he said he was going to practice awhile with an Olympic-style bow as part of the Junior Olympic Archery Development Program.

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