Bluffsview Elementary School's archery teams continue to help students build life skills and make a positive impact in their school, according to parents.
The fourth- and fifth-grade team's on-target performance at the National Archery in the Schools Program Eastern Nationals tournament May 10 in Louisville, Kentucky, and a potential trip to the NASP Open Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, in July are two signs of that, but the effects go much deeper, they say.
Bluffsview has two archery teams: one composed of fourth- and fifth-graders and another for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. The team for the older students includes sixth-graders from Bluffsview and seventh- and eighth-graders from Phoenix Middle School. Each team has 24 students.
Only the fourth- and fifth-grade team qualified to go to Nashville, coach Ben Wilson said. The team of older students didn't have a high enough score to proceed, he said.
Wilson said archery is a sport that sometimes attracts children who might not necessarily get recognition otherwise. He said because it's not a typical team sport and it requires time and effort to excel, it provides a niche for many students.
"There's always something you can work on," Wilson said. "It's also given those kids recognition."
Sarah Ruck's sons, Drew, 12, and Nolan, 10, are both members of the team. Drew has been involved for four years and Nolan for two, she said.
During that time, Ruck has noticed a difference in the growth of her children, she said.
"I have seen them learn more responsibility because you have to take it seriously," Ruck said. "They've learned patience and self-discipline. It's not a sport where you can goof off, and my boys are goofy boys. It developed a side of them that I didn't think would develop until they were older."
She said the team creates a sense of camaraderie among the team members and their families.
"There's all kinds of kids that are doing it," Ruck said. "It's been fun to see that it is all inclusive."
Kimberly Miller's daughter Jocelyn, 11, has been on the team for three years. She said being on the team has sharpened Jocelyn's focus.
"It does also develop a sense of discipline," Miller said. "The first time I ever saw a practice, I was so amazed at the discipline."
Miller said that sense of focus and discipline has been evident in other areas of her daughter's life and her teachers have commented that they are not surprised Jocelyn is good at archery because of the focus she has in her school work.
Both Ruck and Miller said a lot of the credit of goes back to Wilson and his ability to inspire and connect with the kids.
"He's very good at inspiring them and I think that's what they try to go out and do when they are helping each other," Miller said.
Miller said it is evident in the way the team members help each other and lift up one another during practices and competitions.
At Louisville, the team placed 15th out of 200 elementary teams, Wilson said.
"We improved our score from the state championship," he said.
The team scored 3,112 for the state championship and 3,125 in Louisville, he said. The score to qualify for the national competition was 3,050, he said.
The teams won the Ohio NASP Championship on March 17, according to Wilson.
He said five archers left with a personal best score after the May 10 competition. The highest-scoring archer in the fifth grade, Colin Gorbett, 11, was ranked 64th out of 1,069 archers. Kevin Henderson, 9, ranked 18th and Elijah Rhea, 10, ranked 34th out of 870 fourth-grade boys.
Nolan Ruck, a fourth-grader who ranked 11th out of 870 at the national competition, said it was fun.
"It's so much more exciting because you get to meet people from around the country," he said.
Fifth-grader Sophie Palmer, 11, said she attended the tournament for the second time and enjoyed it more.
"It was good because I was lucky enough to be top 12," she said, referring to scoring in the top 12 for the Bluffsview team.
Sophie ranked 309th out of 1,213 fifth-grade girls.
Wilson said the team performed well.
"They shot really well," he said. "Sometimes you'll get a student that'll have a meltdown and they just fall apart."
Wilson said he was also proud of the way his team behaved during the competition.
"The kids were all really encouraging to each other," he said. "We talk a lot about being a fountain and not a drain to other people when you're at the tournament."
He said he doesn't know if the team would be able to go to the NASP Open Tournament from July 25 to 27 because school is not in session and a lot of students are out of town.
He said he still is checking with families and coaches for availability and is not sure when a decision would be made.
The NASP Open Tournament will be at the Nashville Music City Center, 201 Fifth Ave. in Nashville.