March 19, 2024 at 10:13 a.m.

ON TARGET!

St. Pius X School offering an archery club for students
The St. Pius X archery club poses in front of their targets inside the school's gymnasium where practice is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Emily Benson photo)
The St. Pius X archery club poses in front of their targets inside the school's gymnasium where practice is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. (Emily Benson photo)

By Emily Benson | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Isabella Lodise steps up to the colored line in the St. Pius X School gym. The eighth grader stares down the gymnasium at a large target on the other side before drawing back her bow and arrow. As she releases, she watches her shot hit just outside the middle of the center with a satisfying thud. 

This is a typical day of practice for the St. Pius School’s archery club. In 2022, the school began offering the program as a nontraditional sport/activity for their students.

Jim Smith, parent of a previous St. Pius X alumna and who helped get the club started, took over coaching duties in January of this year. While new to coaching a team, Smith had been teaching archery for years to his daughter, Elizabeth, who competed in the U.S. National Indoor Championships and the Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) National Indoor Championship in 2018, and completed a series of archery competitions to qualify for the USA Youth Archery Team.

Smith started teaching Elizabeth how to shoot when she was 9, the same age as many students in the St. Pius program.

“I don’t know if there’s another school in the Capital District doing an archery program,” Smith told The Evangelist.

Natasha Volsky, a sixth grader at St. Pius, was excited when the school first announced the program.

“I did it last year and I just thought it was amazing,” she said. “I was watching an archery show a few years ago and I thought it was interesting, so when they introduced the archery club I was like, get me in there!”

“I watched (the movie) “The Hunger Games” and I wanted to be an archer like (Katniss Everdeen, the main character),” laughed Lodise. “Then I got really interested in it and I started learning about the algorithm of it. It started off as a cool little thing; it’s more of a sport now.”

The program ranges in grade and skill level; some students are returners from last year, while others are picking up a bow for the first time. In February, six archers from the club attended their first tournament at the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club in Stockbridge, Mass. 

Smith is hopeful that more students will be eligible to compete as they strengthen their skills throughout the season.

“I’ve seen so much growth already,” he said, “even in the younger ones.”

Smith noted that four students have purchased their own equipment that has been fitted and tuned specifically to them. “When this occurs it’s amazing to see the incredible leap forward they make shooting,” he said.

Typical practice starts with a review of the proper stance for shooting, along with loading and drawing the arrow. Students shoot in rows with Smith helping answer questions or tweaking bows. The day ends with shooting games as students take aim at balloons, and — the most anticipated game — a dollar bill tacked to the board pulled from Smith’s wallet: if you can hit it, it’s yours.

“Archery is 90 percent mental,” Smith said. “It’s like golf, it’s like tennis; you’re out there on your own … Who do you get to talk to (when shooting)? Yourself and God.”


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