With the use of bows and arrows, this new sports ministry aims to teach boys and girls skills and confidence in an activity they can enjoy for a lifetime. Brian Lancaster said it is exciting to see when students who have never before picked up a bow and arrow finally hit the target.
“We’ve been able to see kids who can’t do it at all and really struggle and then when you see them be able to hit the target, it’s something really cool to watch and be a part of,” he said. “You can see the confidence build up in them. It provides a good way to get into a sport without it having to be a team sport.”
Lancaster is leading the upcoming second Woodlake Archery Program for boys and girls in 3rd – 8th grades. Classes begin Saturday, April 14, and continue for the following six weeks. Archery 101 meets from 9:30-10:30 a.m. followed by Advanced Archery from 11 a.m. until noon. Students must complete Archery 101 before moving on to the Advanced Archery class.
When it debuted last year, 22 students signed up to learn about archery and practice the sport through the program sponsored by Woodlake Baptist Church in Covington.
“We got trained ourselves and went through our first session last fall,” Lancaster said. “We had a good group and then had others who wanted to join. It was a great program and we found there was a need for that kind of program in this area. High schools and middle schools have archery programs, but students have to make the team, so this is a good way for people who are wanting to make the team, or if they don’t, they can come here and learn about it. We let them move at their own pace.”
Lancaster, who is Woodlake’s family and youth pastor said an archery coach from a local high school told him he was glad the church was doing this program.
“You can start outside of school and build your skills and can try out for the team,” Lancaster said, adding that whether a student ever wants to be on a team, he or she still learns skills they can use to enjoy archery for fun or even enter tournaments.
Each Saturday session will include archery instruction, practice time and a short devotion.
“It’s not only a sport, but a great ministry,” Lancaster said. “I think it can just grow from here.”
Instructors include those who have been involved with archery as a sport, hunters and others trained in the activity.
“It’s an easy sport to pick up,” Lancaster said. “You can easily pick it up and take it home and it’s something that fathers, sons, daughters, mothers all can do together. They can go out and shoot together and can enter tournaments together.”
Lancaster and his wife Jessi are the parents of son Maddox and daughter Lydia Wren and he said archery is a sport families can practice and enjoy for years to come.
“This is a good way to get into a sport without it having to be a team sport,” he said. “…There were a couple of kids who don’t play team sports. Some kids are a little intimidated by team sports. They’ve been able to come in and loosen up and get excited about something they can do. They can pick up a bow, which can be scary at first, but then they learn about it. Some of them couldn’t hit the target at all. Then they hit the target for the first time and to see the joy they had and then see them do it again and again was great.”
Lancaster said the archery program helps boys and girls learn about the sport and increase their skills with the help of instructors who offer one-on-one training.
“You see the growth in the students,” he added. “They say, ‘You know what–I can do this.’ It builds character.”
Registration is now under way for the Woodlake Archery Program and classes are limited. The cost is $25 per student, with discounts given for families registering more than one student. For more information, call the church at 770-385-7777. Participants may stop by the church or sign up online at woodlakebaptistchurch.org. Located in the Walnut Grove community, Woodlake Baptist Church is at 3940 Highway 138 in Covington.