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Park Lane Elementary Archers

Lawton_Robin Hood, William Tell, and Cupid.  One thing they all have in common is love for bows and arrows--and some Lawton kids are taking aim to become awesome archers as well. Park Lane Elementary started teaching archery in P.E. class, and this year started an archery team.  Thirteen of the students will now have their sights set on winning the state championship on Wednesday.

Their P.E. teacher, Ken Gray, is an amateur archer, and he made it part of the curriculum for third, fourth, and fifth graders.  At the end of their classes, they had a tournament, and the 13 "Archery Aces" with the best scores were invited to the Python archery team.

They practice for a half-hour after school each day, The oldest archer is 10, and they have the focus and calm nerves many adults can only dream about. "I'm thinking shoot the arrow at where you're aiming, and then adjust from there. And once I get a good shot, I'm like 'yes, yes, I didn't miss'." said 5th grader Tracy Priestley.

Many of them hit the target every time--and one nailed the center over and over, shot after shot. "One thing is you've got to know your yardage, got to know the wind-speed," said 10-year-old Dawson Brush.  "Like I was doing, you stay calm, you pull back your bow, you focus, and you release."

"They love it.  They can't wait to come to class," Gray said. "They're trying really hard to keep their grades up, and their behavior, citizenship, just so they can stay in archery and the team we have after school."

They must stay academically eligible, just like college athletes.  But one thing about archery is it doesn't matter how big, strong, or fast they are. "A lot of students can participate in archery side by side with very talented athletes," said Cameron University archery instructor Joel Dering.

"Athleticism really isn't what wins--it's discipline." Boys and girls compete side by side, and even students with disabilities will compete at the April first tournament--which the kids can't wait to attend.

"I'm excited, even though it's going to be a long trip.  There's gonna be a lot of people, so I hope I do great," Brush said. This is the first archery program in Lawton's elementary schools, and they're using equipment on loan from Cameron University.

The instructors hope to get more adult archers involved and hopefully spread the program to other schools.

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