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Archery students take aim at Pratt

Kahrie Stegman
Pratt High School Student Angel Hernandez takes aim (above) during the Pratt Archery Tournament at Blythe Family Fitness last Saturday.

More than 120 students from nine different schools participated in the Pratt archery tournament held at the Blythe Family Fitness, and facilitated by Kansas Wildlife and Parks and the Pratt High Archery team on Saturday, March 7. Participating from Pratt were Jonathan Popovich, Makenzie Shanline, Shawndra Bare, Natalie Miller, Abigail Kendall, Nick Fisher, Angel Hernandez, Jose Garcia, Jonathan Slocum, and Ben Mass.

From Skyline, Shan Miller and Ben Hayes competed. Since there was a requirement of at least 12 archers to make a team, all Pratt and Skyline students entered as individuals. Though there were no placers from Pratt or Skyline, but Pratt archery coach Michelle Popovich said local students competed well.

“They felt pretty good,” Popovich said. “More than anything else you’re competing with yourself at something like this, trying to always improve your own score.”

Only 10 students from Pratt competed, but there are more than 20 students on the Pratt team.

Students from Pratt practice once per week, and since target practice can become monotonous, Popovich has tried some different methods of practicing.

“We have tried some other games to improve our ability to hit where we want to hit,” Popovich said.

Popovich said there is a wide range of reasons students do archery, from hunting to simply wanting to learn how, and she thinks archery is a valuable sport for all those involved.

“It develops a lot of different skills,” she said. “It develops hand-eye coordination, it gives you a chance to compete if you’re not the most athletic person in the world, and it gives you a chance to do something you can be really good at because just about anybody can. There are kids with all kinds of disabilities who are able to shoot in archery.”

As the season moves forward, Popovich said Pratt will continue to work hard in practice to prepare for state.

“Hopefully we’ll have some additional practice between here and state,” Popovich said. “We’ll continue to keep doing the things we do trying to make things better each time that we shoot.”

Aaron Austin, Shelby Stevens, Jeff Conley, Ludi Egging and Tara Pagenkopf from Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and Brad Prosser from Kansas Bowhunters Association were instrumental in organizing and running the recent tournament in Pratt.

“I am so thankful to all those who helped with the tournament,” Popovich said. “It was amazing and so smooth how it all went. This could not have happened without these very special people who support our archery teams.”