Georgia 4-H’ers from Jackson County hit the mark and brought home a national title in the junior division at the 4-H Buckmaster’s Invitational held Aug. 14-17 in Montgomery, Ala.
Six 4-H members participated in three tournaments during the competition. The team earned 15 place awards in the junior division and five overall place awards.
Jackson County’s 4-H Archery team was formed in 2000 and has continued to grow each year. Keri Hobbs, University of Georgia Extension coordinator, became the team’s 4-H agent a little more than two years ago. Having worked with the 4-H archery team in Sumter County before relocating to Jackson County, Hobbs understands the importance of 4-H archery and what participation can do for the students.
“Kids and their parents as well are looking for extracurricular activities to get involved in something positive, and 4-H is very positive. A majority of the girls (on the team), if not all of them, started shooting archery because of the opportunity through 4-H,” Hobbs said.
Hobbs and the team's six coaches view archery as much more than just a sport.
“The archery team grew tremendously because of the support of our coaches. Kids learn more than shooting. The coaches are changing lives by building confidence and character,” she said.
Currently, the Jackson County 4-H archery team has 51 shooters on their roster. More than half of the team is female.
The team is comprised of students age 9-18 from all backgrounds which proves how important teamwork and community really are, Hobbs said. Second year archery coach Michael Reynolds personally witnesses the growth and maturity the students experience through the team. Hobbs says Reynolds’ enthusiasm and excitement for the sport and the students are the reasons the team has doubled in size.
“I’ve got kids of all shapes, forms, home life and everything. 4-H builds character, forms discipline and builds social skills. Our job, as instructors, is to morally pick them up, give them encouragement in everything they do. We do what we do because we do make a difference in these kids’ lives,” Reynolds said.
Jackson County was the only Georgia team that competed in the Buckmaster's Invitational. Almost 100 individuals were registered in the junior division with targets ranging from five to 30 yards away.
“This was a great experience for our junior age group and it was a big deal being in front of crowds. It was nerve wracking for them, too,” said Reynolds who advised the team to “block everything else out.”
His advice worked.
And the winners are..
Kaycie Malcolm, a seventh grade student at East Jackson Middle School, was awarded the second high individual shooter. Eighth grade Commerce Middle School student Bethany Arnold placed third. Bree Reynolds, an eighth grade student from EJMS, won fourth. Marissa Fullard, an eighth grade student from EJMS, placed seventh, and seventh grade EJMS student Maddie Fowler claimed eighth place overall.
In the FITA (World Archery Federation) competition, sixth grade West Jackson Middle School student Lillie Woodall won eighth in the individual division.
Jackson County 4-H will begin its 2014-2015 archery season on Tuesday, Oct. 7.
For more information about the 4-H Archery team in your county, contact your local UGA Extension Office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.