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Hitting the target on fun

During spring break, students had a chance to learn a new skill and interact with others their age while remaining safe.

Suffolk Parks and Recreation hosted an archery clinic at Sleepy Hole Park for ages 8 to 11 and 12 to 17. This three-day clinic gave many of the kids participating their first chance to shoot a bow and arrow.

The ages 8 to 11 years old class met in the mornings and learned about three different types of bows, crossbow, compound and recurve. The children spent the most time working with a compound bow, but could use the powerful crossbow with close supervision.

“We learned about how to shoot and our stance and how to aim,” said Jasmine Zuraqui, age 10. “It’s really fun to do it. We get to learn a lot.”

At the beginning of the last day, instructor Nakiesha Bridgers, the outdoor programs specialist with Suffolk Parks and Recreation, quizzed the kids on stance and safety before their warmup. She reminded them to keep a strong back, aim low and look behind them as they pull their arrows out of the targets, so as not to hurt someone accidentally.

“They are doing really great,” said Bridgers. “This is my first archery clinic with Suffolk, and it’s cool to offer this to the community. For most of these kids, this is their first archery class. I just love seeing kids working together from different backgrounds and helping build their confidence in the outdoors and seeing them grow.”

After a few shooting sessions to warm up, the students could do different activities set up on the targets. Some had jumbled letters to spell words by hitting the correct letters, a game of tic-tac-toe, decoy animals and a station to get one-on-one help with the crossbow.

“Today and yesterday, we learned about crossbows and they’re pretty fun,” said Brandon Sutton, age 10. “We have all really improved a lot.”

Even though the clinic lasted only a few days, all of the students were able to hit the targets consistently. Only a few hit the bullseye, but many targets had clusters of consistent arrows.

“At first, I was terrible, but the more I practiced, I got better,” said Grace Sutton, 8. “It became more fun, because it wasn’t fun when I couldn’t hit the target.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” agreed Mackenzi Graves, age 7.5. “I would say on a scale from one to 10, it would be 100.”

Also helping out was Alexis Foster from Suffolk Parks and Recreation. She loved seeing kids finally interacting with others their age, as school has been mostly, if not entirely, virtual for the past year.

“They’re at a social development age, and it’s good to see them here making friends and meeting new people,” said Foster. “Also, archery is a cool skill to learn.”

According to Bridgers, there are more outdoor events coming, including outdoor recesses, night hikes, bird watching and more.