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On Target

Olympic-style archery program at Connelly School of the Holy Child.

Kelly Russell and Zaria Nabinett

Kelly Russell and Zaria Nabinett Photo Contributed

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Katherine Keeney and Abigail Titus

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Abigail Titus with Leslie Whitaker

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Audrey Fischbach with Athletic Director Sheila Wooters

Holy Child’s physical education teacher Leslie Whitaker was astounded when she was notified that a 700-pound box had been delivered to the school and was waiting for her to claim. She had no idea that the box would contain a complete set of new archery equipment for her program — four targets, recurve archery bows with sights in various weights, quivers, arrows and an arrow curtain — everything she needed to make it possible to initiate an Olympic-certified archery course at Potomac’s Connelly School of the Holy Child. The equipment was furnished through a grant from the Easton Foundation in Van Nuys, Calif. — an organization existing to further Olympic-style archery and other sports nationwide. Whitaker had sought the grant to improve the equipment at the school, thus making it possible to institute the National Training System Method of teaching archery at Holy Child.

The school has included archery as a small part of their PE program for many years now, but due to the equipment grant, it is possible to develop an Olympic-certified course. Another bonus of having the proper equipment is that the school will be offering summer camp sessions to teach the basics of archery — no bows or experience required. The camps are for rising 6th – 12th grade girls from any school (ages 10-18.) The dates are June 17 – 19 and June 24 – 26 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. or 1–4 p.m. Each session is $150. Sign up at www.holychild.org. or for more information, call 301-365-0955.

Archery has lately become more popular because of the movies “The Hunger Games,” “Brave” — and even TV’s “Revolution” which have showcased the sport of archery.

Whitaker initially introduced barebow archery to sophomores at Holy Child. Barebow archery means that the bow is just the string and the frame — and the arrow is shot without a sight. After she began taking classes at The Archery Center at Bull Run, Va. with Olympian and international champion Ruth Rowe, and with competitive archer Frank Kelley, she became excited about offering the NTS Method of archery at her school. She feels the program could be an Olympic developmental program.

“Archery is a highly disciplined skilled sport which appeals to a wide-range of athletes and non-athletes. It’s a precision sport that can remain a life-long passion and will bring a lifetime of enjoyment,” Whitaker said. “It’s very challenging and requires a lot of focus and discipline. I’d love to see archery come back as an NCAA sport. I also hope the interest grows at Holy Child and within our community.”