Archery program aims to sharpen minds

Staff photo: Douglas Clark Clovis Christian Schools fifth-grader Obed Blanco takes aim at the target during archery practice in the school’s gymnasium. The Eagles’ elementary archery team will compete at nationals in Louisville, Kentucky next month.

Staff photo: Douglas Clark
Clovis Christian Schools fifth-grader Obed Blanco takes aim at the target during archery practice in the school’s gymnasium. The Eagles’ elementary archery team will compete at nationals in Louisville, Kentucky next month.

By Douglas Clark
Staff Writer
dclark@cnjonline.com

Focus and discipline are key elements that contribute to success in the classroom while the same can also be said with regard to athletic achievement.

To that end, the Clovis Christian Schools archery team has managed to deploy bows and arrows with an eye toward helping students maximize academic potential.

Under the instruction and guidance of coaches Bruce Vincent and Clyde Davis, the Eagles archery team is in the midst of wrapping up its third season — the foundation of which is rooted in NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) principles.

NASP was co-created by the Kentucky Departments of Fish & Wildlife Resources and Department of Education and Mathews Archery in the late summer and fall of 2001.

Officials said within the program’s first year, the 120-school goal was achieved and because of neighbor-state interest, “National” replaced “Kentucky” in the program’s name and NASP expanded its participation standards to include students in grades 4-12.

“The NASP program motto, which I totally agree with, is to teach focus and discipline,” said Vincent, who also serves as the school’s Bible teacher, fifth grade science teacher and middle school physical education instructor. “In archery it takes a lot of focus and discipline to shoot with repeated accuracy. By teaching them to really stay focused, it transfers to the classroom — where they are locked into getting their work done. That was the purpose of NASP when they put it in the schools.”

Vincent said this season represents the first in which Clovis Christian Schools has fielded three full teams comprised of elementary, middle and high school students, respectively. All three units competed in the state tournament in Albuquerque last month, with the elementary squad advancing to nationals next month in Louisville, Ky.

“Of the 17 kids on the elementary team, 14 of the 17 are honor roll students,” Vincent said. “They’ll be recognized for their due diligence in the classroom at the national competition. A number of the skills required to succeed in archery are very translatable to the classroom — with those being dedication, resilience and a willingness to examine mechanical flaws and make the needed adjustments.”

Archery offers myriad distinctions, Vincent said, from the minimum grade of the competitors to the competitive mindset.

“It’s different in that it’s the only sport which allows fourth-graders to compete,” said Vincent, who embraced the sport as a youth. “In the other sports you have to be in the sixth grade or higher to participate in organized school athletics. It’s a team sport with an individual atmosphere. When they’re out there, it’s them against the target, but we still emphasize the unifying team approach.”

Archery team member Obed Blanco said participating in the sport has sharpened his analytical skills.

“Sometimes I just shoot freely and allow it to flow,” said Blanco, a fifth grader. “And after I’m finished shooting I see where the arrows land and tweak my aim for an even better result. It makes me think. It works that way with school work, too.”

Vincent said the Eagles archery team meets after school and begins practice sessions by shooting 10 meters from the target, then advancing to a more difficult 15 meters in distance. He said in-school tournaments are common in lieu of regularly scheduled competitions against other schools.

Clovis Christian Schools Principal Linda D’Amour extended kudos to Vincent for his unwavering support and influence.

“The discipline Mr. Vincent has instilled in the children is very impressive,” she said. “He has a rapport with the children that is unique and uses archery as a tool to teach life skills while also providing positive reinforcement. He’s a man among men in the way he leads children. The kids cannot wait to get into his (archery) program.”