Webster County 4-H archers are on-target

Everybody has probably, at one time or another, heard the excuse about the dog eating the homework.

Sadie Lewman, of Fort Dodge, a participant in the 4-H Shooting Sports Archery Program, can do that one better if asked why she hasn’t practiced with her bow much.

The hay bale she was using as a target backstop – was eaten.

“I practiced ’til we had to feed it to our horse,” Lewman said.

She’s back at it now ,though.

“We just go new ones.”

Lewman is one of about 30 participants in the Archery Program in Webster County. Wednesday afternoon some of them, including Lewman and certified instructors, demonstrated their skills and let some new archers try the craft at the Webster County Fair.

Lewman is shooting her mother’s old bow, a wood recurve bow, and she enjoys being able to participate inexpensively.

“Once you get the bow and a few arrows there’s not a lot to purchase,” Lewman said.

Don Zabel, of Fort Dodge, is one of the coaches for the program.

“Archery is not just about hunting,” he said. “There are so many things you can do – field archery, 3D shooting and targets.”

Dave Anderson, of Fort Dodge, is another instructor.

He said the goal is to teach the students the basics of archery in a safe and closely supervised environment. They divide into two groups, beginners, who are just learning, and advanced students, who are in their second year.

There is a state competition in April that they can attempt and a state championship in Montezuma held in the fall.

Teaching brings a lot of satisfaction to Anderson.

“I enjoy seeing how they progress and the satisfaction it brings to them,” Anderson said. “It’s amazing how well the kids pick it up.”

He said that interest in archery, both as a shooting discipline and a hunting discipline, is growing.

Among those giving the bows a shot during the demonstration was Ally Grady, 9, of Fort Dodge. After some basic instruction from Zabel, she quickly began putting most of her fired arrows into the target.

She gave it a ringing endorsement by coming back for another turn.

“I want to do it again,” Grady said.