Budding Robin Hoods learn from an expert archer

Max Corell and Kellen Field test their archery skills Wednesday in the gym at Langley Middle School. The two are part of a South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District after-school program.

It was a stroke of luck.

When the South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District wanted to begin an after-school archery program, they didn’t have to go far to find someone who knew the difference between a recurve bow and a quiver.

Glen Harris is a U.S. national archery coach and was a trainer with the United States Olympic team in Athens in 2004.

And he lives in Langley. Currently, he teaches archery at Shoreline Community College in conjunction with his company, Emerald City Archery Academy.

As he closely monitored his seven students at Langley Middle School Wednesday, Harris explained how he got the gig from the parks district.

“I had been looking for a place to set up an outdoor archery program and approached Terri Arnold,” Harris recalled. “We started in a small way last fall, then they asked if I could do a school class.”

District spokeswoman Peggy Hockett said the program has been popular.

“We’ve had a number of kids sign up from last year because they liked it so much,” she said.

The program is available for kids at the middle and elementary schools.

Another plus was Harris’ help in getting a small grant to pay for bows, arrows, arrow quivers and targets.

The bows are special. A recurve bow is defined by the side-view profile. In contrast to the simple longbow, a recurve bow has tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is unstrung.

A recurve bow stores more energy than an equivalent straight-limbed bow, giving a greater amount of cast, or energy, to the arrow.

A recurve also permits a shorter design, often preferred by archers where long weapons could be cumbersome such as in brush and forest terrain or while on horseback.

None of the kids in Harris’ class will be firing arrows from the back of a horse anytime soon, though.

But in just a few weeks they’ve learned about safety procedures and how to shoot at a target.

“This is grassroots archery at its finest,” Harris said. “We want them to have fun, be safe and develop a lifelong activity accessible for people of all ages, shapes and sizes.”

Middle school student Sarafina Durr is the only girl of the seven students in the class.

“I’ve always liked the sport and wanted to learn more,” she said.

Her fellow archers-in-training include Isaac Hall, Cameron Baldwin, Ian Schulz, Austin Drake, Max Corell and Kellen Field.

For more information on parks programs, call 221-5484.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@southwhidbeyrecord.com.