Lewis and Clark Middle School students escaped Tuesday's frigid temperatures by practicing their archery skills indoors.
As they anchored their feet and grasped their arrows just below the fletching, the teens took steady aim at targets lined neatly against a white wall. As the shafts sank into the padded targets, they made a satisfying "Pow! Kapow! Pow! Pow!" sound.
As part of a series of units on indoor sports, the archery program has been in place for years, in part because it's something students enjoy. All grade levels and physical education classes participate in the middle school's archery unit.
Eighth grader Karsten McMillan said it's one of his favorite school programs. "I went to the state competition last year. It's very fun," he said.
To improve the success of his shots, McMillan tends to aim slightly higher than the bull's-eye, he said. "And then I hold steady and let it go," he said.
On Tuesday, McMillan and about 20 of his peers, using compound bows, were busy practicing their shots in an unfurnished room perched above the Jefferson City school's gymnasium. They'll have a test on the sport on Monday, Coach Rob Fatherley reminded them.
Fatherley said the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program - commonly referred to as MoNASP and patterned after a national archery program- is designed to help build stronger, more confident and accomplished kids.
The program teaches students to follow the "11 Steps to Archery Success," and shows them how to correctly tally their scores. Students who are interested in taking their skill a bit further are invited to participate in the school's "Open Shoot" program, held every Friday afternoon in January. They can also contact the Capital City Bowbenders to learn more about the sport.
Fatherley likes the archery unit because it exposes a wider range of students to alternative sports they might enjoy. "It gives a kid the opportunity to do something other than participate in the typical team sports," he said.