OKLAHOMA CITY — Two area archery teams are taking aim to be named the best of the best after qualifying for national competition last month.
More than 3,600 Oklahoma students gathered in February for the 2017 State Shoot of the Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program tournament. The program, a component of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, has seen expansive growth and developed into a four vision competition.
Both Healdton Public Schools and Zaneis Public Schools had individuals and teams find great success.
In team competition, the Zaneis Elementary team, the Zaneis Middle School team and the Healdton High School teams all qualified for national competition. Also qualifying for Nationals were Madill High School, Ringling High School and Greenville Elementary. The teams qualified by finishing in the top 10 in group scoring. National competition will be conducted in Louisville,
Kentucky, in May.
Area archers also found success individually, with Karson Warrington, Zaneis Middle School, Israel Shinn, Healdton Middle School, Baylee Weatherly, Ringling High School, Courtney Doyal, Healdton High School, and Emma Skinner, Zaneis Elementary School, all posted scores high enough to qualify for national competition. Skinner, a fourth-grader shooting for the first time
competitively at state, placed first in her division, posting a score of 278 out of 300.
“She’s kind of a legacy,” Angela Aycox, Zaneis Archery coach, said of Skinner, whose family has a tradition of archery. “In order to be this good you have to put in the extra time and effort.”
Aycox said the group has worked hard to earn their success and are backed by a strong group of supporters.
“We have really good parental support,” she said, mentioning the parents drive students to practices, competitions and help them prepare for competition. “Several of them shot the highest they’ve ever shot before.”
For Healdton, Doyal and Shinn both posted scores of 282, high enough to qualify them for Nationals. Tolliver said Shinn, an eighth grader, made huge progress throughout the year and will now compete at the highest level.
“He had never shot a bow before,” she said, noting how he has progressed. “I’m so proud of all of them.”
Both Zaneis and Healdton are smaller schools compared to many of the schools competing at the state and national levels. The students stood toe to toe with students from Chickasha, Mustang and other large schools and competed at a high level. Tolliver said the students’ ability to compete is a testament to their craft.
 “They’ve worked extremely hard and they’re willing to put int he extra effort,” Tolliver said.
Tolliver and Aycox both noted many of their students are young and still developing their skill, which will only continue to sharpen as they practice and compete more. In May, the groups will take aim at a higher price: a national championship.