Two new sports seeking participants: New archery program readies for first contest

In 2016, junior Katelyn Walgren brought to gym teacher Paul Elser’s attention that she was interested in an archery team and was hoping that he would be on board.

“It’s (archery) been a big part of my family, so I thought it would be cool to try once I tried it before, but with the ending of my softball and volleyball careers, I figured I wanted to get out there again,” Walgren said.

Following her proposal, Elser acquired the correct equipment and got the word out. “I heard about this program through the DNR [Iowa Department of Natural Resources], and at the time we had this PEP grant going on with extra money. I talked to administration about starting it,” Elser said.

Going into the team’s second year, the participants have hopes for competing. “It is the same season as basketball, so there is a little conflict as I do teach it and coach basketball, so I am looking for someone to help coach it,” Elser said.

As the program is not yet a school-sanctioned activity, it has also struggled with constant numbers while looking for volunteers to help run the program as fall is a busy season for Elser, and juggling archery and basketball coaching will not be an easy task. “We want to try to start competing, but we need a volunteer to take that and kind of run with it,” Elser said.

The team has goals of starting by competing against smaller surrounding schools with teams such as Jesup and Wapsie Valley while working its way up to qualify at state and even national levels.

“They have competitions between local schools, state, regional and national levels. They have one in Utah and another in Kentucky. You have to be pretty good. I don’t know if the kids are there yet, but if the kids want to try, then they can,” Elser said.

They hope to get out and compete to determine their overall skill along with fueling the team for higher goals. “My big goal right now is go get us into some local competitions to see where my kids are at compared to their level of shooting,” Elser said. “I kind of have an idea as I compare it to scoring 50 every time, and some kids are pretty good. I think we need to go play another school to get a feel for what it is like to go through all the pieces.”

Similar to golf and wrestling, archery is a sport where athletes are scored based on their individual performance, which then leads to an overall team score. The score is determined by how close one shoots to a target at different 10- and 15-meter distances. “I like that it is a change from traditional sports,” Walgren said. “It’s more that everyone is there to have fun, and it is based as a team and as yourself.”

What sets archery different from other sports is that anyone can join. “The philosophy behind the program is that is is not about your equipment, it is about your skill,” Elser said. “This levels the playing field and says that is it going to be your skill purely against the person next to you’s skill.”

The archery team meets every Wednesday and Friday during the last 20 minutes of shift one in power hour all the way to the end. No previous experience or equipment is required. Contact Elser at for details.

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