Nearly 2,000 youth participate in Missouri's 4-H archery program. And the program is producing some nationally ranked archers. A 13-year-old member of the Marion County Silver Spurs 4-H club is ranked not only first in the state and first in the nation, but also fourth in the world. Then there is a 17-year-old from Oyster Prairie 4-H who placed fifth in the World Archery Tournament in Las Vegas.
Cassie Hancock and Chase Wilson are at the pinnacle of their sport. In addition to her world ranking, the 13-year-old member of the Marion County Silver Spurs 4-H Club, recently took top honors in her division at the Missouri Bowhunters Association State Indoor Championship in Linn, where she broke the state record she set the previous year. She also won against 33 female competitors in her age division in the National Field Archery Association National Indoor Championship in Louisville, Ky., in March. This is the second-largest shoot in the U.S., only to the Las Vegas shoot, according to University of Missouri Extension 4-H specialist Gerry Snapp.
According to Snapp, Hancock makes archery look easy. However, it takes hours of practice to hit the target, so she hones her skill with 2-hour a day practices.
"Archery is 5% physical and 95% mental," Hancock explains Snapp says that Hancock is one of a growing number of girls involved in nontraditional 4-H activities. Still archery is also for young men.
Wilson, a 17-year-old Oyster Prairie 4-H member, placed fifth in the World Archery Tournament in Las Vegas. He has been a Lewis County 4-H member for nine years and has been shooting competitively for eight years. "It's the biggest thing in my life," he says. "Once you find out about it, you get hooked on it."
He, too, takes a disciplined approach to the sport. "It's a challenge. It's just like any other sport," he said. "You have to put in the time and work."
Indoor shooting competitions require that 30 arrows be shot in an intense round. This is where practice and stamina pay off. "You have to have muscle memory to shoot over and over again," he said.
Wilson graduated from high school this year and has been accepted at the University of Missouri and plans to major in chemical engineering.
As a competitor, Wilson set a goal of competing on the Missouri 4-H team at the 4-H National Shooting Sports Invitational. It was a goal he accomplished in 2010, when the archery team helped the Missouri team win first overall. In 2012, he learned a new discipline and competed on the Missouri recurve archery team in Grand Island, Neb.