Hitting the bullseye at Mahar Regional School

  • From left to right, Mahar High School students Jayden Hamlett, Kameron Tompkins, Shea Savage, Camden Bashaw, Talia Sims, and Tori Hanks. contributed photo

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

ORANGE — Six middle and high school students took aim with compound bows in the Ralph C. Mahar Regional High School gymnasium Thursday, releasing arrows at a target positioned near a basketball hoop.

“Hopefully, it’ll spark their interest to do it leisurely, or competitively, or in hunting,” said Evelyn Gonciarz, a science teacher at the school who oversees the archery club.

The club, which is open to all Mahar students, was started in 2015 by Mike Roche, who advised the school’s Fish and Game Club. Gonciarz said Roche started the program because he wanted to “expand interest in outdoor sports.”

These days, students meet twice a month to practice their technique, shooting flights of five arrows at targets each worth a maximum of 50 points. Weekly participation varies between six to about 20 students.

Gonciarz teaches the students how to shoot based on rules sanctioned by National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP).

“You can’t have any sights on the bow, it has to be instinct shooting,” Gonciarz explained, noting that only Genesis bows are allowed. Per the rules, targets must be positioned certain distances away, and there’s a strict scoring systems.

“They shoot a flight of arrows — five arrows — and the maximum score you can get is 50,” Gonciarz continued.

Over time, the program has grown. Two years ago, Mahar students defeated Franklin County Technical School students in the club’s first archery competition, which followed NASP rules. The top male and female archers won a Genesis Pro Bow.

Gonciarz, an avid bow hunter, said archery is beneficial for students in particular because “you’re competing against yourself. It’s not traditional sports. It gives kids a niche who aren’t interested in something like basketball, but are still looking to be active,” Gonciarz said.

Archery is also an effective teaching tool.

“One of the courses I teach is physical science. And there’s definitely physical science that goes into archery — a lot of factors affect your shot,” she continued. For example, the arrow material affects its weight, which in turn affects the arrow’s flight. And the “draw weight” of the bow affects how fast the arrow will travel.

Looking ahead, Gonciarz said she’d like to host another competition, and see more students become involved.

“Hopefully, it will be something they love and carry with them for the rest of their lives,” Gonciarz said.