Archers take aim in virtual national tournament

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It’s silent. Archers line up. Whistles blow. Bows lift. Arrows pierce the targets with a thump – as they’ve done over and over, but Saturday, April 24, a national championship called Prosper archers to take aim one last time this season.

The Prosper High School archery team, led by Becky and Todd Hedges, practiced on Tuesdays and Thursdays to prepare for tournaments from September through April. The team competed in the 2021 Texas- National Archery in the Schools Program State Tournament Wednesday, March 24, in Belton, Texas. Then archers qualified for the national tournament that was held at the Prosper ISD Administration Building Saturday, April 24, at 11 a.m. Due to COVID-19, teams competed at their home venues and submitted their scores virtually. Teams have until Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m. to submit their scores, so no rankings have been released yet.

“The concept of archery is actually quite simple, but the actual process is much more challenging,” coach Becky Hedges said. “It’s putting an arrow on a string attached to the upper and lower bow limbs and creating pressure by pulling the string away from the bow. When you release the pressure on the string, the stored energy propels the arrow forward.”

Hedges said 11 steps go into shooting an arrow, including getting in the correct stance, setting up the arrow, aiming, releasing and reflecting on the shot. At tournaments, archers go through this process a total of eight times. 

“Archery tournaments consist of one practice round and three scoring rounds from 10 meters and one practice and three scoring rounds from 15 meters,” Hedges said. “Archers shoot five arrows during each round, and scores are calculated based on where the arrows land on the target.”

The rings are scored, ranging from one point to 10 points, with the center scoring at 10 points. The maximum number of points an archer can gain is 300 for the whole tournament.

“Each archer shoots the tournament for both an individual score and a chance at being included in the team score,” Hedges said. “The team score consists of the top 12 individual scores for each school.  It’s extremely important to focus on every shot because one point can make a difference. The top 10 archers at the state tournament this year were all separated by only five points.”

The team is ranked seventh out of 40 teams in the division and has 14 members, including highly ranked archers in Texas.

At the national tournament, junior Sam Sidhu shoots from the 10 meter line. Sidhu has been shooting archery since his freshman year. He ranked ninth place at the state tournament. (Neena Sidhu)

“I have been shooting archery since my freshman year,” junior Sam Sidhu said. “I heard people talking about it and thought that it seemed interesting. Over three years, I have earned scholarships from winning tournaments.”

They are an amazing group of students who are constantly complimented on their preparedness, knowledge of the rules, sportsmanship and courtesy to their partners. I’m so proud to be their coach.”

— Becky Hedges

Sidhu placed ninth in high school boys at the state tournament for 2019 and 2021. He has also placed in the top 20 for high school boys in over half of the tournaments he has competed in.

“I like archery because it requires focus and concentration,” Sidhu said. “Prosper has a great organization with great, supportive coaches.”

Coaches in program work the team members. Hedges became a certified archery instructor five years ago after moving to Texas when her company relocated.

“My son was on an archery team in Kentucky, but they didn’t have a team when we moved here,” she said. “I worked with Holly Ferguson and Valerie Little to start the team, beginning with becoming a certified coach.”

Along with Hedges, the Prosper Archery teams have six coaches that focus on six district schools, including Rock Hill High School coach, Robyn Johnson.

“Coach Robyn was running an archery camp, and I signed up when I first moved to Texas because I needed a hobby,” sophomore Laura Costa said. “She got me interested in archery, so I signed up freshman year for the high school team.”

Like Costa and Sidhu, many archers begin their freshman year and plan to or have continued through their senior year.

“I’m extremely grateful to work with Prosper archers,” Hedges said. “They are an amazing group of students who are constantly complimented on their preparedness, knowledge of the rules, sportsmanship and courtesy to their partners. I’m so proud to be their coach.”