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Archery helps Cromwell-Wright students build life skills

Cromwell-Wright sixth-grader Tucker Korpi draws his bow during an archery tournament Saturday, March 23, in Cromwell. (Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal)1 / 3
Cromwell-Wright ninth-grader Skylar Yenna takes aim at a 3D target during the National Archery in the Schools Program Region 2 tournament Saturday, March 23. (Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal)2 / 3
The Cromwell-Wright archery team competed in the National Archery in the Schools Program Region 2 tournament Saturday, March 23, in Cromwell. Pictured front, from left: McLaine Hascall, Jacob Measner, Blake Hallam, Tucker Korpi, Hattie Olson, Karleigh Smith, Keira Hascall and Coach Kyle Ridlon; and back: Elisabeth Kachinske, Steven Ridlon, Andrew Kachinske, Jack Irving, Blake Jatkola, Seth Ridlon, Bertie Korpi, Jakub Wisniowski and Emily Dukwen. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Ridlon)3 / 3

The gym at Cromwell-Wright High School was eerily quiet Saturday, March 23, despite the dozens of kids roaming around and even more parents and spectators watching.

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Region 2 tournament in Cromwell isn't your average sporting event. The loudest noises during the competition were the constant "twang, thump" from archers releasing their arrows and then finding their targets.

Occasionally, the rhythm was broken by a clang of an arrow that missed the 3D targets in the makeshift range set up on the Cardinal basketball court.

After each end — a two-minute period where archers must fire five arrows at a target — Cards coach Kyle Ridlon blows a whistle and each shooter and their partner go inspect where their arrows ended up.

NASP was begun in late 2001 as a joint project of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and Education in an attempt to improve student motivation, attention, behavior attendance and focus for students in grades 4-12, according to the organization's website. The sport has grown since then to include more than 2.3 million participants in 2016.

During the Minnesota State Tournament this weekend at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, approximately 2,500 archers will shoot in 3D and bullseye competitions.

In 3D competitions, participants compete in six ends shooting at full-sized animal targets like turkeys, bears, deer and sheep at distances of 10-15 meters. Bullseye competitions ask archers to shoot three ends at a target 10 meters away and another three at 15 meters.

Ridlon said he sees students developing skills through archery that help them deal with challenges at school and in life.

"It helps them to focus on what they are doing day-to-day," Ridlon said. "The skills you use to shoot an arrow are skills you'd use every day, from mental focus to physical coordination to the ability to develop internal self-discipline to deal with high stress situations.

Tucker Korpi, a sixth grader at Cromwell-Wright, enjoys the competition and the feeling he gets during each end of the competition.

"When you draw the bow back your heart starts beating faster and once you release, it starts to slow back down," he said. "When you release, you're just waiting to see where the arrow lands — then you go through it all four more times."

Tucker is in his second year of competition, but his older brother Bertie, an 11th-grader, has been competing several more years and finished first in the high school boys division. Tucker finished eighth in the middle school boys division.

Ninth-grader Skylar Yenna, who finished ninth in the high school girls competition, said she has enjoyed improving over the years, but what she enjoys is how archery serves as a stress reliever.

"When you draw it back, it's like you're about to punch someone," she said. "But when you release, all that anger goes away."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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