NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> A menacing raptor, a flesh-eating zombie named Undead Fred and a scary-looking goblin were no match for a group of young archers on Friday morning.
During the final day of a week long USA Exploring Archery Summer Camp at the Clark Nature Center in Newtown Township, the fledgling archers landed round after round of arrows in the 3-D targets using genesis compound and traditional recurve bows.
“You hit it directly in the nose,” one of the archers said just moments after one of the arrows knocked Undead Fred to the ground. “Nice shooting.”
Another arrow bounced off the T-Rex landing on the ground nearby while the goblin and a troll took numerous arrows to the face.
The 3-D station was by far one of the most popular activities at the camp offered by the Newtown Township Parks & Recreation Department and led by the Pipersville-based Shooting Star Academy, which conducts camps at locations throughout Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
In a welcome break from Covid-19 restrictions, more than 50 youngsters ranging in age from 5 to 17 participated in the summer camp experience learning skill sets from beginner through advanced.
Rotating through different activity stations, the archers not only learned range safety and shooting techniques, they also targeted moving objects, shot at 3-D targets, made target faces and quivers and competed in games such as ‘Defend our camp.’
At one of the stations, the archers used Flu Flu arrows as they targeted a line up of moving helium-filled balloons.
As camp instructor AJ shouted instructions, the archers nocked their arrows, drew their arrows, took aim and fired at the bobbing balloons.
The balloons didn’t stand a chance as their arrows flew toward the moving targets, popping so many that AJ had to call a time out as he replenished the balloons.
“This is day five and they are pretty proficient,” said Donna Lynch, who co-owns Shooting Star with her husband. “Day one, they couldn’t nock their arrows. So you can see how far they’ve come in just a week.”
At another station, the younger kids were practicing their skills at an archery target range adjusted to their size and age level.
After going through several drills and checking their stance, arrows were soon flying through the air, with several hitting the bullseye.
On this particular day, the kids were learning from one of the region’s best - Mike Wiseman, a pro-shooter with Elite. He was drilling them in how to stand properly, how to nock their arrows, holding at full draw, aiming and shooting.
“Archery is a lifetime sport. Anyone can do it. Even the disabled and the elderly can pull a bow back and shoot,” said Lynch. “It’s very therapeutic. It helps with concentration because you’re only thinking about that one arrow. It also helps with core strength, hand and eye coordination, concentration, problem-solving skills, strategy and polishing your shots.”
To ensure Covid-19 safety at the camp, Lynch said they have taken a number of extra precautions.
“After every round we sanitize the bows and the arrows. We also practice helicopter distancing among the kids,” she said. “In fact, archery was even allowed during the yellow phase. So even our governor agreed that archery is something we can do during these times.
“Safety is our number one priority” across the board, whether it’s for Covid or use of equipment, added Lynch. “Obviously we have 50 children with weapons in their hands. So it’s important they don’t point their arrows at others and they remain at a safe distance.”
This is the first summer the camp has been offered in Newtown, and the response has been very positive with each of the two camps filling up rapidly, according to Newtown Township program coordinator Matt Zippin.
“This is the first time we have run archery in years and we couldn’t be happier with the success,” said Zippin. “Fifty kids registered for this camp. We had 40 for the last camp. We had 90 in total over the summer and we’re hoping to add another week. We’re looking forward to it.
“The kids are so excited, especially when they hit the targets. It’s a nice camp,” said Zippin. “They do a good job. It’s well organized. And we’re happy to run it.”
If you missed the previous two camps, reservations are now being taken for a third camp to be held August 31 to September 4 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Clark Nature Center. Sign up by visiting NewtownFun.com and clicking on the program tab.