Precision, safety go hand in hand at Westmoreland Fair archery contest
Archery has been around for centuries. But the sport is enjoying a rebirth, of sorts, thanks to the recent competition at the Westmoreland Fair.
4-H members from around the county lined up to try their hand at the age-old event that hones their precision.
“The first year we held this, we had about 10, maybe 12 kids come out, and it's pretty much grown since then,” air rifle superintendent Lonnie Lenhart of Ligonier said of the 4-H archery competition.
Archery competition superintendent Dennis Harrold of Latrobe said archery is not the only sport in which interest is growing.
“The shooting sports are one of the fastest-growing programs within the 4-H,” Har-rold said. “It's nice to see these kids getting interested.”
Several clubs within the county are shooting clubs — such as rifle, air rifle and archery — and although the equipment may be different, the goal of each club and event is the same.
“We stress safety,” Greg Vidakovich said. “Safety is first and foremost.”
A unique aspect of shooting sports is that there is a level playing field — both girls and boys have the same chance to excel and can compete fairly against each other.
“I have seen some really impressive females over the years,” Lenhart said. “They seem to be more patient and focused at times than the boys.”
The fair competition comprised three age groups: junior, intermediate and senior. Participants in each category shot six times from three distances.
“The younger kids shoot closer, and then as they progress age-wise, they then shoot further,” Harrold said.
A written test was part of the event.
“There is a possible grand total of 240 points that each participant can get, with a combination of shooting and the written test,” Vidakovich said.
Katelyn Cahill, 11, of Irwin had a good day, showing the precision she acquired after only one year of working with the sport.
“My parents asked me if I wanted to try this, so I did, and I really like it,” Cahill said.
Many of the archers had their own equipment. Some used borrowed or club equipment. Participant Spencer Aten, 11, of Pittsburgh made his own bow.
“I just thought I'd try to make one myself,” Aten said. “I just used some PVC pipe and string and it works pretty good. I just got bored one day and decided to try to make one.”
Vidakovich said the competition is geared toward safety, fun and sportsmanship.
“This isn't about coming here and winning a trophy,” he said. “This is about coming here and doing your best and striving to win a trophy. We just want everyone to be safe and enjoy it.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.