Chloe Cranch, now 12, got hooked on archery after watching the movie “Brave” when she was 9.
“The protagonist was a girl and she liked archery,” Cranch said. “I thought it was cool.”
When Cranch’s mother suggested Chloe attend South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District’s archery camp, Cranch “was all for it.”
This year’s edition of the long-running camp finished up last Friday under the direction of Bill Stinson.
Stinson, like Cranch, was drawn to the sport by a childhood experience.
Growing up in Great Falls, Mont., Stinson watched the 1972 Olympics and was intrigued by archery. A neighbor was one of the top shooters in Montana, and Stinson and his friends would race to the fence to watch him practice.
Soon, it was Stinson who was one of he best in the state. From 12 to 20, he never lost a match in Montana.
Twice Stinson placed at the National Field Archery championships and qualified for the 1980 Olympic trials.
When the United States boycotted the Moscow games, he decided it was time to turn pro (only amateur athletes competed in the games at that time) and “get on with his life.”
He began working at a sporting goods store and teaching the sport.
This is his fourth year running the South Whidbey camp, taking over for his coach, Glenn Harris, who is now busy helping with the Olympic team.
Stinson’s goal as a teacher is to get kids to fall in love with the sport the way he did while peeking over his neighbor’s fence.
“I want them to have fun.”
Stinson coaches a team at Ebenezer Christian School in Lynden, leading the squad to the state title in 2007. At that time, he said, there were 2,000 shooters. The number of competitors has grown to more than 15,000.
The growth, he said, has been spurred by the National Archery in Schools program, which took off with the development of the Genesis bow, which allows “any P.E. teacher or student to shoot a bow and shoot it safely.”
Stinson would like to see the sport grow even more in schools around the state and into serious club teams.
The nearest competitive team, he said, is in Mountlake Terrace.
This year’s camp at South Whidbey attracted 22 students.
Griffin Arndt, 11, got a taste of archery when he received a bow for his birthday.
“I like shooting, so I came to archery camp,” he said. “It is something cool to do.”
Ben Cone, 9, is being taught by his father, who is a bow hunter, as well as Stinson.
“I came to camp because I like to shoot; I just like the feel of a bow,” he said.
“Camp is fun; a lot of people like it. It is fun getting bull’s-eyes.”
Cranch likes experimenting with different technique and experiencing the results of using proper form.
She pointed out that once she started shooting with her dominant eye, she began hitting the bull’s-eye.