The 2012 Hollywood blockbuster, The Hunger Games, became so popular that it’s no longer called simply a “movie.” The Hunger Games and its three sequels now are known as a “multimedia franchise.” The movies, based on books by Suzanne Collins, feature the exploits of an expert female archer, Katniss Everdeen, who is forced to participate in a fight to the finish against several other competitors.
Is it a coincidence that archery has become one of the most popular sports in Pocahontas County? Or is the local archery team’s great success simply generating greater interest? The Elementary School Team won the West Virginia State Championship last year. The Middle School Team just missed the state tournament by a few points. That kind of success makes recruiting much easier for coaches in any sport.
Whatever the case, 77 youngsters signed up to participate in the three team divisions this season. The Elementary School Team, with 20 members, includes students in grades four through six; the Middle School Team, with 34 members, includes grades seven and eight; and the High School Team, with 23 members, includes grade nine through 12.
“The high school level was where we had the most trouble getting kids signed up last year,” said Head Coach Jody Spencer. “We only had four high school shooters. So, they shot as individuals wherever we went. They didn’t have enough people to shoot a team score. That’s all going to change this year. We already have 23 kids from the high school pre-registered. We have a full roster for the high school team this year.”
As if things didn’t look bright enough for the Pocahontas County Archery Team, they have another reason to celebrate. Coaches and supporters recently completed work on an impressive new indoor practice facility in the Hanover Building in Marlinton. The beautiful practice range is expected to give local archers a leg up as they begin their quest for more state championship trophies.
Spencer and Assistant Coach David Smith were putting some finishing touches on the practice range last Friday.
“This new facility is vital for our Archery Team,” said Spencer. “We now have a 4,800 square foot shooting space to call our own. We can hold more practices. If we have to cancel for snow days, we have the availability now to make those practices up. So, it’s going to give the kids a lot more time to shoot this winter.”
The County Commission provided space in the Hanover Building for the new practice facility. Coaches, parents and other volunteers raised funds and donated labor to build the new range. The program receives no school funding but team activities are covered by the Board of Education’s liability insurance.
The team starts practice at the range on December 2. The team’s first tournament is at Elkview on February 14. The first home tournament is at Pocahontas County High School on February 14. The team has a Facebook page where updates and results are posted.