NEWTON, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – School is usually where students explore and experiment to discover what they’re good at.
At Startown Elementary, an archery experiment has been wildly successful, with four consecutive state championships. They earned their latest title in February.
“A lot of kids don’t have ‘things,'” Coach Gabe Ervin said, flashing air quotes for emphasis. “And this gives them their ‘thing’ a lot of times.”
At practice in the gym, students are all business.
“Get bowed!” coach Ervin said as his team drew with their game faces on.
“Make sure we slow down, just a little bit,” he instructs Kaidyn Thurman, a sharpshooter on the team.
Clearly, Startown aims high.
“We’ve always got that confidence that we’re gonna win state,” Jeremiah Smith said.
Regarding this sport, Thurman is “Smarter than a Fifth Grader.”
“It’s helped me because I’m more confident and more focused on things that I do,” she told Queen City News.
Right now, they’re focused on the nationals in May. The archery dynasty is built on rapid improvement and constant practice by shooting stars like Thurman.
“She’s worked hard and gone to all kinds of extra practices, and right now she’s ranked probably around the top ten in the nation right now,” said Ervin.
That last part was news to Thurman.
“But now it feels good because I know that!” she said.\
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Coach Ervin started the program five years ago.
“I’d never shot a bow before until we started this program, so it took a lot of research on my part,” Ervin said. “But really, the kids have done their part, and they’ve taken what we’ve told them and ran with it.”
Gigi Ervin competes wearing an eye patch.
“I shoot with it on,” Gigi said.
Meanwhile, Holly Kirwan takes a breather before letting it fly.
“Well, I close my eyes… and I just breathe in… and out…” says Kirwan.
The Eastern Nationals tournament will be held in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 11 through the 13th.