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‘Making memories’: Area school hosts archery qualifier for state championships

KATELYN HIBBARD/Sun-Gazette Archers from Halifax High School line up for a practice end during a recent National Archery in the Schools Program state qualifier at Ashkar Elementary School.

HUGHESVILLE — Picturing their child with a bow and arrow could give some parents a heart attack. But the parents of archery club members know those bows are in good hands.

For the East Lycoming Archery Club, safety comes first, after all.

This was apparent as a qualifying match for the National Archery in the Schools Program was held recently at Joseph C. Ashkar Elementary School, in preparation for the organization’s annual state championships in State College this March. The school was selected as the venue due to the oversized turnout for last year’s competition.

Students in grades seven to 12 from five schools competed at the qualifier, though students as young as those in fourth grade can enter. The competing schools were Hughesville High School, Halifax High School, Mifflinburg Middle School, Linden Hall School for Girls and Dauphin County Technical School.

Coaches Mike and Tracy Lunger were excited for the opportunity to host the tournament, saying it was a chance to build community support and participation.

“There are a lot of people in the area who don’t know how this works,” Mike Lunger said. “So now they can see what archery is all about.”

“This will help students to get more recognition because they had to work their way up for it,” said Bill Cook, who is with the defending state champion Halifax team.

The archers use cable bows with no let-off, no release and no sights, and all are the same regardless of the user’s age. They all use the same arrows as well.

“Sixth-grade kids shoot the same bow as the senior kids,” Cook said. “You can adjust for poundage, but that’s it.”

Only the top 12 teams and top 30 individual archers in each class will be able to qualify for the state tournament. The sport uses a points system — competitors get 10 points for a bullseye and each ring is worth one less point as they work their way out.

In qualifiers, archers get three practice ends with five arrows at a distance of 10 meters. They then shoot three ends with five arrows at 15 meters for the scored round.

Several of East Lycoming’s members attended last year’s state championships and are hopeful for

the opportunity to go again.

“Once you get a taste, you want more,” sophomore Ben Wagner said. “I hope I make it back. Fingers crossed.”

“My favorite part last year was seeing all of the people interested in archery,” said sophomore Emalee Lunger, Mike and Tracy’s daughter. Emalee’s sister, eighth-grader Bethany, also competes.

Though some of the archers have been shooting and even competing for years, others are a bit more green.

“Spending time with my friends, whether we win or not, will be enough,” said seventh-grader Chloe Springman, who is competing for her first year.

Several of the members practice and compete in the sport outside of the club as well.

“It’s turned into something my father and I can bond over,” said freshman Katie Fisher, who began shooting in competitions before joining the club.

Though the Lungers were nervous about hosting the qualifying round, they felt it went well and their kids had fun.

“We’re excited for the kids to see how their scores compared to (those of) other kids around Pennsylvania and see if they go to Penn State in March,” Tracy Lunger said, recalling last year’s competition and the fun they had both in and outside the tournament. “That’s what it’s all about — making memories for the kids.”

There are several qualifyers coming up throughout the state, with the final two rounds taking place Feb. 4 in Portersville and Herndon. Students who will advance to the state finals won’t be announced until all the qualifiers have finished.

The state championships are March 10 at the Penn State Multi Sport Complex in State College.

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