By Nick Nunn staff writer

With a pair of state titles under their belt, the Morgan County 4-H Senior Recurve and Senior Compound archery teams have begun preparing for their next stage of competition: the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitation, which will be held in Grand Island, Neb., on June 25-29. According to Morgan County 4-H archer coach Nick Nicholson, this is the first time that both state-winning archery teams have come from the same county. The teams have a number of challenges ahead of them, with one of the largest being the fundraising effort that will be necessary to get the team members and their families to the competition itself. Nicholson estimates that the cost of travel and lodging will be approximately $2,000 for each of the 10 families that will be involved in going to the national competition. Nicholson hopes that the team will be able to raise $10,000 – approximately half of the funds necessary – in order to defray the costs to the archers and their families. He also stated that an anonymous source has promised to make a dollar-for-dollar match for any funds donated to the 4-H archery team.

“Naturally, we are going to try and get as many personal and business donations as we can,” said Nicholson. He added that they are currently considering holding a raffle or barbeque fundraiser. Seven Morgan County archers comprised the Senior Recuve and Senior Compound teams that took first at the Georgia 4-H State Archery Match on May 2-3 at Rock Eagle in Eatonton. The Senior Recurve team, made up of Jacob Vaughters, Jonathan Garner, and Caleb Higdon, scored a 1559 to take first in the overall competition. Jackson Mitchell, Joshua Carver, Victoria Armor, and Hattie Ivy – Morgan County’s Senior Compound team – placed first with a total score of 2040. The Morgan County Cloverleaf Recuve team, comprised of Ashley Pincus, Julia Myers, and Isabella Elwood, also took first in their state competition, but only senior division teams are able to go on to the national competition. “Only senior teams compete in the national competition,” said Nicholson.

“In Georgia, state-winning senior teams from individual counties win the right to represent the state.” “Some other states select their teams from 4-H participants on a statewide instead of county basis. It is up to each state to decide how they select their teams.” “The teams will be comprised of the same individuals who won the state competition,” continued Nicholson. Morgan County 4-H archery teams have competed in the National Competition before, both in 2007 and 2011. In 2007, Katie Wibel, Sarah Wibel, and Aston Adcock placed third in the national competition in the Senior Recurve Divicion in Rapid City, S.D., after placing first in the state competition. Stephanie Pincus, Sarah Gallager, and Cole Rolader took third place in the national competition in the Senior Recurve division in 2011 in San Antonio, Tx. Coach Nicholson said that the Morgan County 4-H archery program works to get students interest in archery beginning around the fifth grade.

I usually spend a week at the elementary school in October with the physical education classes,” said Nicholson. “I work with the PE coaches to introduce archery to all fifth-grade classes in conjunction with the National Archery in the Schools Program.” They also hold a Fall Fun Shoot for young students to raise awareness about the archery program. Currently, the Morgan County 4-H archery teams practice at a range, which is located off Lion’s Club Road behind the Morgan County Public Safety Complex. Nicholson said that the facility boasts two independent ranges; one is set up for younger archers, who typically shoot at a distance of 10 to 40 meters, and the second remains in place for the senior archers. “These ranges operate independently of each other,” said Nicholson.

“This allows the older shooters to be able to shoot more ends without having to wait for the younger shooters to clear the target area when they retrieve arrows.” “Safety is our number one goal, and shooting and arrow retrieval procedures are strictly controlled,” added Nicholson. “We have 13 volunteer coaches, who are USA Archery certified. This is the parent organization for Olympic archery in the United States.” For those wishing to donate to the Morgan County 4-H team as they prepare for the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitation, in Grand Island, Neb., you can send donations to the Morgan County 4-H office care of “Morgan County 4- H Archery, 440 Hancock Street, Madison, GA, 30650, or drop off donations in person at the listed address.