Audrey Merrill finishes fifth in her division

Nolanville Elementary School fifth-grader Audrey Merrill receives congratulations from Raeann Melvin, a school PE teacher and one of the school’s archery coaches. The team competed at state for the first time this year and won third as a team and Merrill finished fifth in her division as an individual.

NOLANVILLE — Already popular, Nolanville Elementary School’s successful Archery Club is now an award winner at the state level. The team finished third among elementary clubs at the Texas State National Archery in Schools Program Tournament on March 6 at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton. They received medals in a ceremony March 28.

The elementary team is qualified to compete at the national tournament in Louisville, Ky., but is not scheduled to attend.

Burnie Kessner of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, which administers the Archery in Schools program, delivered the team trophy and individual medals to Nolanville team members.

Individually, Nolanville fifth-grader Audrey Merrill received recognition for finishing fifth among 89 elementary girls with 249 points out of 300.

“It was really cool,” she said. “It was a little scary at first, but it was fun to get that chance to compete at state. I was completely shocked. I didn’t know that I was that good.”

Nolanville physical education teachers Raeann Melvin and Mike Duncan began offering an archery unit three years ago. They received a Killeen Independent School District Education Foundation grant, expanded the program and quickly drew interest.

The two educators said archery is a chance for students of widely varied backgrounds and abilities to shine. Duncan said archery has improved attendance and decreased disciplinary referrals.

“I like it because it’s cool and fun,” Audrey said. “Most people think you just pull back and aim, but you have to focus.”

She said team members practiced before school twice a week and after school once a week in addition to taking part in the PE unit.

While Nolanville’s team won’t make the out-of-state trip, they did go to the Heart of Texas archery tournament in Waco and won it.

“I see the pride in our kids,” said Melvin of the school’s archery success. “This gives them something that’s theirs.”

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