By GRACE GADDY
PALESTINE — Local youth who want to channel their inner Robin Hood can do so through a new archery program offered by the Anderson County 4-H club.
The program is called Xtreme 4-H Shooting Sports and is a joint venture headed up by certified archery coaches Kenneth and Amy Honeycutt of Palestine.
The program is already practiced through 4-H clubs around the state but is new to Anderson County, according to Amy Honeycutt.
“Every county can have a shooting sports program, though our county has never had one,” she said. “We started in March; we had our first practice. We are currently up to 16 members, and I have several potential new members coming on Sunday to visit.”
The program practices twice a month at 4 p.m. on Sundays. This Sunday, the group will meet at 792 Anderson County Road 2116 in Palestine.
Honeycutt said that area youth are welcome to come out and visit. She said the practices provide an introduction to shooting safety and the fundamentals of archery.
“Shooting sports is all about safety — that is the first step at every practice, our safety meeting,” she said.
Additionally, the program falls in line with the 4-H slogan “Learn by Doing,” as students are able to learn and experience the craft of archery in a hands-on, safe shooting environment.
“It's about your stance, anchor points and just getting the basics,” Honeycutt said. “Right now, we're just teaching how to draw, how to anchor, how to aim, how to properly release and how to follow through.”
Xtreme 4-H Shooting Sports is open to all youth in Anderson County ages 8 (and in the 3rd grade) through 19 years. Equipment is provided, or students are welcome to bring their own bow. Participants who are not already involved in the local 4-H club are required to obtain membership, but then they are set to shoot.
“Most of the kids who have joined are brand new to 4-H — about 90 percent,” Honeycutt said.
According to a news release, the decision to join 4-H could prove to be a life-changing one as programs — such as Xtreme 4-H Shooting Sports — provide opportunities for youth to develop life-long knowledge, leadership and citizenship skills, in addition to making friends.
Honeycutt said the 4-H club offers an array of programs to stimulate youths' interests, from fashion to photography to shooting a bow and arrow.
Honeycutt said that tournaments are generally held during the school year from September to July, when the “big state tournament” takes place. Since the local group just started, she said they'd be taking a break in July and August and start up again in September.
“We would love to have any area youth,” Honeycutt said. “They're welcome to start now or wait until September; any youth are welcome at any experience level.”
Xtreme 4-H Shooting Sports is an educational activity of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Educational programs of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age or national origin.
The cost to join 4-H includes a $20 membership fee, along with $25 to join the Xtreme 4-H Shooting Sports. Persons interested in joining Xtreme 4-H Shooting Sports or who would like more information can call Honeycutt at 903-391-4079 or email Xtreme4h@yahoo.com. They can also contact the Anderson County Extension Office at 903-723-3735.