Aiming for the heart

By Dick Mason, The Observer November 02, 2012 01:02 pm

Issac Jergens, left, and Brody Hanson, both of La Grande, prepare to fire at targets at the Centershot range Monday evening at Valley Fellowship. CHRIS BAXTER - The Observer
Issac Jergens, left, and Brody Hanson, both of La Grande, prepare to fire at targets at the Centershot range Monday evening at Valley Fellowship. CHRIS BAXTER - The Observer

Eight-week program teaches local youths about archery, spirituality

Arrows travel a bit slower than normal on Monday nights at this indoor range, but words of wisdom, encouragement and spirituality cascade like a waterfall. 

Introducing the Centershot program and its range at Valley Fellowship across from Pioneer Park. The range, set up on Monday evenings, is a key element of Centershot, an eight-week program through which boys, girls and adults are taught about the sport of archery while learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Participants meet once a week and receive archery instruction from certified teachers. Between sessions, participants receive Bible lessons.

Centershot programs have been offered since March in La Grande and are receiving a promising reception. The present eight-week program has 12 students enrolled, which is near capacity and an ideal number, said Chuck Sarrett, the program’s director. 

He said the program’s enrollment is noteworthy considering that it has not been advertised.

“People have learned about it through word of mouth,” Sarrett said.

All participants in the current session were inexperienced archers when the program started, and many seem to elevate their skills almost exponentially with each session.

“The improvement they make each week is phenomenal,” Sarrett said.

A reason the budding archers learn so quickly is good instruction and the lightweight bows provided by Centershot. They are designed so that a person of any size can use them. 

“They are ideal bows for instructional use,” Sarrett said.

He describes them as a hybrid of compound and traditional bows, which are not one size fits all. People firing compound and traditional bows have to use ones fit for their size.  

Equal drawstring pressure is another plus of the lightweight Centershot bows. When one pulls back on a Centershot program bow, the drawstring pressure never changes. This is a stark contrast to compound and traditional bows, for which pressure changes significantly the farther back one pulls the drawstring. 

The drawstring pressure for compound bows is heavy initially and then falls the farther it is pulled back. The farther one pulls back a traditional bow, the greater the drawstring pressure.

The light weight of the Centershot bows means that arrows fired from them travel slower than those from compound and traditional bows. 

  The current Centershot session is the second one offered at Valley Fellowship since the program started in March. In 2013, Centershot programs will be offered in January and February, March and April, and October and November. 

Sarrett is one of the program’s seven instructors. Also teaching are his wife, Carma Sarrett, as well as Scott Wilson, Becky Wilson, Dennis Alexander, Carlene Alexander and Mat Barber. 

“As instructors we enjoy it immensely,” Sarrett said. “All of us love archery and the opportunity to be able to share the word of God with kids.”

At the Bible sessions between shoots, participants study a basic  Gospel message. They are also given a Scripture verse they are encouraged to memorize for the following week’s meeting.

Parallels between the Bible and archery are made throughout the Centershot program. Sarrett noted that “sin” is an old archery term once commonly used to describe an errant shot. This dovetails with a point Centershot instructors make. 

“We miss the mark when we fail to live up to God’s expectations. We miss the mark when God is not in our life,” Sarrett said.

The individuals participating in the current Centershot session include Janessa Mudd, Victoria Mudd, Jeremy Mudd, Parker Burns, Mark Donnely, Brody Hanson, Tristan Hanson, Jesse Prout, Kevin Mudd, Issac Jergens, Nicholas Arnoldus and Jesse Mudd, all of Union County. 

Sarrett said it is encouraging to see how many of the participants develop as people during the Centershot programs. One who brings a smile to Sarrett’s face is a boy in the current session who was timid when it started but now is much more outgoing and talks excitedly with instructors about archery and is becoming friends with them.   

 Valley Fellowship began offering the Centershot program after raising the $2,500 needed to purchase materials from Centershot Ministries, which is based in Minneapolis. 

 The cost of participating in an eight-week Centershot  program in La Grande is $25, which covers the expense of a T-shirt and curriculum books. 

For information on signing up to participate in a Centershot program call Sarrett at 541-805-8498.