Trish Yerges
The La Grande Observer

The Junior Olympic Archery Development club, led by coach Anieta Appleton of Alpine Archery and Fly in La Grande, participated in the Oregon State Indoor Archery Tournament at Redmond this month and came home with winning outcomes.

Appleton founded the JOAD club two years ago after she acquired a USA Archery Level 2 Instructor certification.

“I started the club with a couple of members in it,” she said. “Then last spring membership started to grow, and in October, we hosted our first youth tournament at Alpine Archery and Fly. At that point, (the club) doubled in size.”

The October event was hosted by JOAD members to drum up more interest in the club and to give them experience at a tournament. Appleton said membership has risen to 15 archers. The youngest is 8 years old, and the oldest youth archer in the JOAD program is 16.

“Each JOAD club has their own name so we are the Flaming Arrows,” she said.

There is no cap to the membership enrollment. If a young person is interested in archery, they or their parents can call the store and come to a meeting, she said. The meetings are about an hour long. On the third Thursday of the month, they shoot for score and progress at their own pace. Appleton provides the instruction.

“We have bows to try out if you haven’t shot before. If you have your own bow, bring it, but otherwise we’ll supply everything,” she said. “We just walk through form, safety, explain about the club, introduce them to the other kids and help them be successful archers.”

Meetings are held at Alpine Archery and Fly, located beneath Raul’s Taqueria, 117 Elm St. in La Grande. The range will accommodate archers shooting at 10 yards or 20 yards.

At the tournaments, there are a lot of different competitions the children can go to. Appleton encourages the club members to try them and find out what they like and what their strengths are. This will make them better all-around archers.

“We went to Redmond, where the Oregon State Archery Indoor competition was held,” she said. “Some of the kids participated on Friday night at the kids’ fun shoot, which isn’t part of the competition, and they get awards for that portion.”

The distance shoot was held earlier this month, and the archers had to shoot twice during that time. Each time the archer shoots 70 arrows, 60 of them are scored. It usually takes about 2-1/2 to 3 hours when everyone is on the line to be able to shoot all those arrows.

Two of the youth archers were first-year participants at the competition, and it was the second year for two others. Kloe King and Brooke Huntington were in the cubs position. It was Kloe’s first competition, and she had a large group.

“Kloe did really well and tried to focus on her shooting rather than her outcome, which makes a really good archer,” Appleton said. “Brooke got first in her cubs division, and she set the record for the State of Oregon. She got a perfect 600 score from National.”

Two other club archers, Danaka Knight and Cameron Snider, also had good outcomes.

“For Danaka, it was a first-time competition. She sat in second place going into Sunday,” said Appleton. “On the second day she got a Robin Hood, which means she put one arrow in the target and the second arrow she shot went into the first arrow.”

This doesn’t happen very often, she said, so that was exciting, especially in a competition setting.

“Cameron has been practicing almost daily on form to get better,” she said. “He shot a 299 the first day, which is one point shy of a 300, a perfect score. He was then in second place when he went into his next round.”

Snider hadn’t lost any points in this round, and on his very last arrow, he pulled back and held it. It was a tense moment as Appleton watched his hesitation. Then he let it down for a couple seconds. Finally, he pulled it back a second time and let it fly, and he hit his 300, walking away with first place.

“Just seeing the confidence that archery has given him and see him come out of his shell and have a good time is wonderful,” Appleton said. “I love seeing that in the kids. They are all different ages and it’s like family. All of these kids are just great.”

See complete story in Monday's Observer