“Are you guys ready to make history?” Russ Scotter asked an eager bunch of students armed with bows half their size.
Moments later the first arrow hissed through the air and thudded into the target five meters away. History was officially made and a smile gleamed from Scotter.
That smile remained on Scotter for the next three hours as he watched 24 students from five Kodiak schools compete in the first Kodiak Island NASP Archery Tournament on Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic School.
Scotter is the Kodiak rural schools archery director. He started archery in 2008 and two years later the sport joined the National Archery in the Schools Program.
Saturday marked the first time students competed against each other in the same venue. Normally students shoot at their own school and results are electronically sent in, something Scotter referred to as “postal tournaments.”
“To have this type of in-person tournament is just unbelievable,” said Scotter, who noted that the Lower Kuskokwim School District was the only other district in Alaska to have conducted this type of tournament, and that was done earlier this year.
Students represented Karluk, Larsen Bay, Akiok, St. Mary’s and Kodiak Christian School in five different grade divisions. Each competitor took 15 shots at the target from five, 10 and 15 meters. Toss in the practice rounds and every student pulled back on the bow 60 times.
“It hurt my fingers a lot, but it was a lot of fun,” Kodiak Christian School sixth-grader Micah Fields said. “At my school we don’t normally get to shoot a lot, so being able to shoot that many arrows at once was kind of fun.”
The Christian school started its archery program two years ago, but it didn’t show on Saturday. Fields and fifth-grader Jason Foxworthy each won their divisions with 255 points (out of 300).
Fields looked calm every time his arrow nailed the center circle of the target, which he did nine times to earn the Top Marksmen Award.
“I try not to show it (excitement), I don’t want to look proud but I am excited in my head,” he said.
Larsen Bay eighth-grader Gayle Aga posted the highest score of the tournament with 263 points. She is a veteran shooter who will be making second trip to the National NASP Archery Tournament that begins May 7 in Louisville, Kentucky.
“There was a lot of people,” Aga said about her trip to Kentucky in 2013.
Karluk’s Westin Charliaga, the fourth-grade champion with 251 points, and Akiok’s Rainy Bircher are also making the trip to Kentucky. All three of them qualified for that national tournament by placing in the top five in their grade level at the Alaska State NASP Tournament that concluded at the end of March.
“It is fun shooting arrows,” Charliaga said.
Fun was the common theme of the day inside the St. Mary’s gymnasium.
“This is a great culmination of our season,” Scotter said.
Kodiak Island NASP Archery Tournament
1. Westin Charliaga, Karluk, 251 points; 2. Elizabeth Aga, Larsen Bay, 180; 3. Bradley Alexander, Larsen Bay, 177.
1. Jason Foxworthy, Kodiak Christian School, 255; 2. Gage Lorring, St. Mary’s, 232; 3. Denis Murillo, Akiok, 226, 4. Lucas Charliaga, Karluk, 213; 5. Francis Eufemio, St. Mary’s, 194; 6. David Castro, St. Mary’s, 192; 7. Emily Larson, St. Mary’s, 181.
1. Micah Fields, Kodiak Christian School, 255; 2. Orion Harper, Kodiak Christian School, 253; 3. Gage Johnson, St. Mary’s, 247; 4. Jaden Amodo, Akiok, 236; 5. Krista Alexander, Larsen Bay, 199; 6. Emily Loring, St. Mary’s, 184.
1. Joseph Bratolle-Charliaga, Karluk, 251; 2. Dustin Reft, Karluk, 250; 3. Joycie Garchitoren, St. Mary’s, 242; 4. Chase Delavergne, Larsen Bay, 168.
1. Gayle Aga, Larsen Bay, 263; 2. Caitlin Phillips, Akhiok, 250; 3. Micha Bircher, Larsen Bay, 249; Naiden Hochmuth, Larsen Bay, 226.