Archery Provides Mental and Physical Fitness for Youth
By Terricha Phillips
Looking for an interesting and uncommon activity that works the body and develops the mind? Archery is a popular sport among Mississippi youth, and the Clinton branch of the YMCA has a program for 6-to-18-year-olds starting in the fall.
The rewards of life skills, sharper focus and bodily strength encouraged Sarrah Cronin from Clinton to enroll her two children in the archery program. Her 9-year-old daughter Addie learned the basics and built strength to handle the bow, and her 14-year-old son Porter is on the Clinton High School archery team and benefits from offseason practice.
“I like learning and getting better at it,” said Addie Cronin, “It’s fun and I would love to have more friends do it with me.” Both siblings like hitting the target and aiming for high scores and Porter appreciates the relaxed coaching environment at the Y. “It is a little more relaxed, and maybe geared towards beginners. I hope they will keep the program around so that they can have classes for beginners and for those who are a little more advanced,” he said.
Growth of youth participation stems from the Archery in Mississippi Schools (AIMS) program in over 500 schools and over 50 counties, with more than 80,000 students each year. According to the website for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, & Parks, AIMS introduces 4th-12th grade students to target archery during physical education and an extracurricular team sport. Even churches like First Baptist Church in Madison have archery camps.
Clinton wants to give residents places to learn and practice archery, said Misty Collier, senior program director of the Metropolitan YMCAs of Mississippi. It all started when Collier and Clinton Courier publisher Clay Mansell discussed starting a program at the Clinton Y. “Mansell brought the awesome Robin Copeland to us. She had been coaching at a local private school for several years and was a blessing in helping us get the program started,” Collier said. “She was even able to get the equipment for us on loan from the state’s Wildlife, Fishery & Parks the first year and it was a huge success. We had over 50 kids 5 and up that first year.”
Arise Church sponsored the program’s second year, buying all equipment and supplies, said Collier, and the Y hired AIMS-certified coach Alise Promise, a Mississippi College student experienced in teaching children.
“It’s a growing sport everywhere and something kids are getting into and enjoying,” said branch director Jami Ferrell. “For us, the benefits are in five areas: increased mental focus and self discipline, improved coordination, increased confidence from mastering a new skill, relaxation/stress relief and teaches the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship.”
The non-competitive sport builds the upper body because the act of pulling a heavy bow and shooting arrows works chest muscles. Participants do warm-ups before activities that focus on the arms and chest.
Registration begins in August and weekly classes start in early September, lasting through April 2020. The equipment comes in a variety of sizes based on one’s weight and size, and lessons are indoors, so classes are safe from the elements.
To register, go online (www.metroymcams.org) and download the registration form. It can be submitted by email or at the front desk. The classes cost $35 for members and $55 for non-members (Ferrell says prices are subject to change), and all equipment is supplied at no cost. The Y would like to partner with Clinton High so students can utilize the Y’s equipment and premises, Ferrell said. Any business, group, or individual can enact a partnership with the Y’s archery program to sustain it for the community.
“This is like a good training program, because kids that participate at the Y can end up auditioning for the Clinton high team and end up joining,” Ferrell said. To be exact, Collier said 15 Y campers made the Clinton High archery team.
“Our high school mascot is the Clinton Arrows, so I feel like we should have had archery a long time ago,” Sarrah Cronin said. “It is a different sport with scholarship opportunities. Not everyone gets the baseball, football or basketball scholarships or makes the team. This isn’t a mainstream sport, but I think it deserves some recognition.”
Terricha Phillips is a northern transplant from Ohio living in Jackson that loves Jesus, being a mom, reading good books and home cooking with her husband James.
Get Started: Where to buy supplies or take classes in the Jackson metro
Copperhead Bows 115 Bragg Street
123 Horseshoe Circle
Rack Shack Outdoors
170 Davis Crossing Road
Gator Archery & Outdoors
105 Lexington Drive
810 Clearmont Drive
Bass Pro Shops
100 Bass Pro Drive
Mississippi Archery Academy
162 Concourse Drive, Suite E