White Oak ISD has expanded its physical education to include archery, and Superintendent Brian Gray said he hopes it can become a lifetime sport or hobby for students.

The district introduced the National Archery in Schools Program sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department this year, Gray said. Over the summer, staff members were trained to become certified archery instructors. In October, archery was introduced in PE classes across the district.

Students also can stay after school some days and practice, he said

A May 4 tournament is scheduled with Harleton ISD, and Gray said the event will follow all COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.

The tournament is a chance for students to be introduced to competitive archery, he said.

“We’re always trying to introduce kiddos to programs and activities that they might not otherwise be introduced to,” Gray said. “Archery is something kiddos can do as a lifetime sport or hobby and teaches discipline and commitment to something. It gives a lot of kids a niche to be part of something they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do. It’s something positive they can carry on once they get out of school.”

Gray stays after school every other Wednesday with about 60 to 70 students to help them practice, he said. Any student can attend practice.

One of those students is sixth-grader Aubri Miller, who said she and her father have been shooting in their free time and she enjoys using a cross bow for hunting.

“I’ve been learning a lot more about my anchor point and where to aim and just learning to get better at it,” she said. “I absolutely want to compete and keep doing it.”

Another sixth-grade student, Connor Leadaman, said he likes the competition side of the sport.

He said his dad and grandfather taught him archery, but school practice is helping him, too.

“I can hit the bullseye more often, and from Mr. Gray I learned how to anchor it,” Connor said. “I’m thankful and it’s fun. I look forward to the competition.”

The school has covered all costs so students can participate for free, Gray said.

“I can’t say enough about the other staff members who have helped with it,” he said. “It’s just something that’s an added benefit for our kids. Next year, we’ll host a big invitational and hopefully qualify kids for state tournament.”

Gray also started archery programs in Union Grove and Harleton ISDs, where he previously was superintendent.

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