Community embraces archery elective

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 8, 2007

Coach Roy Richardson didn&8217;t realize what he was getting into when he volunteered to teach an elective course at Alba Middle School in 2004. He only knew that his love for the outdoors and hunting should make a good match with the new Archery in Schools Program. But he never realized it would mushroom into the program that reaches beyond the school and into the south Mobile County communities that send students to Alma Bryant High School.

Because of a cut in funds, teachers who taught elective courses were in short supply in 2004 and Larry Mouton, middle school principal, asked Richardson to consider the archery program.

Alba won state titles in team and individual competition in 2004 and 2005. When Mouton became principal at Alma Bryant, he asked Richardson to implement the archery program at the high school in Irvington.

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Following the middle school tradition, Alma Bryant won state team titles in 2006 and 2007. The team also traveled to Louisville, Ky., for the national competition and finished ninth in 2006 and seventh in 2007.

The youths shoot an Olympic-style format with 15 shots from 10 yards and 15 shots from 15 yards at an 80-centimeter (31.5 inches) target. The yellow circle in the middle scores a 10.

The equipment in the program is universal. Shooters use Mathews Genesis bows with no sights. The arrows are the same type and length, giving every participant an equal chance.

When Richardson got to the high school, he wasn&8217;t sure how well the older students would adopt the new program.

Because classes are always full, an archery club was formed to accommodate others who want to shoot after school. Also a 3-D archery range was built behind the baseball field.

Now Richardson wants to take it a step further.

David Rainer is with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.