Archery added to sports lineup for Warren Central, Vicksburg

Published 12:15 am Sunday, July 5, 2015

A new sport is coming to Warren Central and Vicksburg High School, and it’s right on target.

The Vicksburg Warren School District voted at its June meeting to add archery to the lineup of varsity sports. The first practices begin in February, and the season in March.

More than 100 schools in the Mississippi High School Activities Association participate in the sport. Although the Warren County schools will be start-up programs, VWSD superintendent Chad Shealy said there are a lot of students who already bowhunt in Vicksburg — including his own two sons — and thinks there will be a lot of them willing to participate.

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Warren Central coach Matt Brewer also didn’t think finding students to compete would be a problem. He planned to use the appeal of archery as a complement to hunting season for people, like him, who enjoyed bowhunting at a young age.

Matt Brewer

Matt Brewer

“I think it’ll be a big draw. It’s a new sport and have some new connotation because it’s new to the town,” Brewer said.

The school district started considering adding archery earlier this year when a number of parents reached out to express interest. One mother even made her plea directly to VShealy at a function.

“I said ‘get in contact with (VWSD athletic director) Lum Wright, he’s our athletic director and see what it would take to put that in place,’” Shealy said.

After doing some research, Wright and the school board found that archery could be added at a relatively low cost.

The school district received $4,000 for set up costs through the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks for equipment. The department also provided training for coaches for free. The rest of the estimated costs, like travel, coaches’ salaries and uniforms, brought the total for each school to $9,290.

The school board unanimously approved the new sport.

“We took and we looked at the coaching supplements for the tennis program. We talked to the two principals about it and they compared the tennis supplement with the archery supplement,” Wright said.

Archery is a sanctioned sport and has a state tournament in April, but does not have a sanctioned state championship under MHSAA rules.

The next step is finding coaches for both programs. Vicksburg High is still looking for two instructors, but Warren Central has them in place already with Brewer and Susan Stanton.

Former Warren Central principal Jamie Creel pitched the idea to Brewer near the end of the school year. Brewer, who is also an assistant football coach, jumped at the opportunity to coach the team, since he grew up hunting and fishing.

“I really enjoy the opportunity to take a program that comes from scratch and hopefully make it a quality one,” Brewer said. “Just lay a quality foundation for a good competitive program.”

There are a lot of steps and protocols in archery and Brewer said the sport is all about control.

Brewer stressed the safety of the sport. All coaches must attend an eight-hour clinic and pass a certification test through the Mississippi Archery in the Schools Program. All programs also use standardized equipment.

The training Brewer went through to become a coach was heavily focused on safety. Athletes are only allowed to touch bows and shoot when they are told to do so.

“It is an extremely, extremely safe sport,” Brewer said. “It’s a lot of regimented steps, a lot of safety protocol with it. If you follow the protocol and proper steps it’s extremely safe and a good sport for people to get into.”

VHS needs archery instructors

Vicksburg High School is looking for two archery instructors for its start-up competitive archery program. All interested applicants should contact VHS principal Deowarski McDonald at 601-636-2914.