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Nice shootin', tex

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By Mickey Patterson

GOSHEN – Eric Perschau had no idea what he was getting into. At the suggestion of his neighbors, Nancy and Lowell Stevens, Perschau, his brother Lance and Eric Wilson all agreed to to serve as coaches and sponsors for a new, after-school archery program at North Oldham Middle School. “Oh my gosh,” Perschau said. “We started this a month ago so this is our rookie debut. We thought, 20, maybe 25 kids tops. We had no idea this many kids would be interested in learning to shoot.” The program has more than 50 members already and grows with each session. Its popularity has surprised even the participants, including those with previous shooting experience. “I thought there would be like 10 kids,” NOMS student Ivy Stevens said. “This is pretty amazing. A lot of kids are talking about it in school.” Stevens began shooting with his dad at the age of four and bow hunting with him at the age of nine and said the program’s basic approach appeals to the newcomers. “It’s really good because you can learn the right way and there is no pressure,” Stevens said. “Plus it’s just a lot of fun.” None of the instructors had any previous teaching experience but have brought a disciplined and organized system to the program. “We all just know how to shoot a bow pretty good,” Perschau said. “The kids themselves have been amazing in the way they have taken to this. They have all been really respectful and great about doing just what we tell them from a safety standpoint. If you look at it nationally, programs like this have a lot less cases of kids getting hurt than the more traditional sports.” The instructors have also been impressed with how quickly some have picked up the sport, displaying a keen shooting eye. “Some of them are actually very good,” Perschau said. “After a couple of times they are not missing the target area are scoring in the bullseye. You can see some of them getting a real sense of achievement and accomplishment from this. It’s been kind of neat.” The program will run through April, and with the popularity of the program and the encouragement of NOMS principal Robb Smith, the school will likely have a competitive shooting team next year. “If we wanted to start competing we have a few that could start right now and do very well,” Perschau said. The popularity has also had a small downside as the program’s resources, the availability of enough bows, arrows, targets and a backdrop have been stretched to the limit. The group shoots in sets of three right now and are looking for donations. Another complete set of everything the program needs would run about $2,500. Anyone interested in any form of donation for the program can contact the school at 228-0158. “If we had two sets of equipment we would have it made,” Perschau said. The extra equipment may be needed even more next year. “Some of the other kids have heard us talking about how much fun it is,” Stevens said. “I think there might be a whole lot more people try it next year.”

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