ZEJHS students take part in state archery competition
Zora Ellis Junior High School seventh-grader Justinn Davis, in the blue shirt, and his teammates will travel to Montgomery today to participate in the state archery tournament,
TALLADEGA – In their inaugural season, a team of 24 Zora Ellis Junior High School students are scheduled to compete in today’s state archery championships in Montgomery.

The team’s first arrows fly at 8:30 a.m. at the Cramton Bowl Multiplex as they compete with 16 other schools from across the state.

The team participated and placed fifth in a regional competition Feb. 15 at Pell City High School.

According to archery coach Bradley Ward, there are six regional competitions in the state and each regional winner is guaranteed a spot in the state championships. The remaining teams from each region are ranked according to their total score at regionals.

Initially, the team fell just short of qualifying, placing 18th overall. After one school dropped out of the competition, it created an opportunity for the upstart program.

“We just found out Monday we’d be competing,” said Ward. “We’ve been plugging everything together, trying to get ready to make a strong showing for our school.”

Though the school’s archery program is young, the majority of their archers are not.

“I had pretty high expectations for our season because some of our students have already shot at R.L. Young Elementary and C.L. Salter Elementary,” Ward said. “We’ve got a very good group coming up in our ranks and we’re only going to get better.”

Ward praised the efforts of his new shooters, who until this year had never competed in an archery competition.

“The program we have set up works really well for them,” Ward said. “After they get the general concepts and steps down, they perform very well. The maximum score any individual shooter can achieve is a 300 and several of our newcomers are shooting in the 230-250 range.”

The competition consists of four rounds at two distances, 10 meters and 15 meters. Participants receive one practice round and three scoring rounds at each distance.

Of the 24 shooters, the top 12 shooters are scored for each team, with a minimum of four males and four female shooters’ scores used.

Ward said his group plans to surprise the competition.

“With archery, you hope you don’t have a bad day,” Ward said. “It’s how much they push themselves that will determine the outcome. Obviously we want to win, but I consider placing in the top 10 as a good baseline goal for this competition. I told our team if we can shoot 3,000 or better, we’ll fare very well and be in a position to compete with these schools.”

Cohen Davidson, a seventh-grader on the team, gained state competition experience from his time at R.L. Young. This competition serves as his first state competition at the junior high level.

”I want to have fun, but I also want to be competitive with these teams,” Davidson said. “When we moved up from shooting at the elementary level, you can tell there’s a big difference in the level of competition we’re facing.”

Despite being a newcomer, teammate Justinn Davis, also a seventh-grader, garnered his archery skills from six years of bow hunting. He shot 222 out of 300 at the regional competition.

“I love to bow hunt, so I’m used to the pressure,” Davis said. “I just love to shoot the bow. Always have, always will.”

Contact Shane Dunaway at sdunaway@dailyhome.com

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