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Hobby on target
Archery club teaches about sport, service
Archery 6 es
Carl and Claire Gordijn shoot at targets. - photo by Emily Saunders
With his father on one side and a coach on the other, Dalton Tjong pulled back the bowstring and shot his first arrow at a target covered in candy prizes.

It fell short, but the trio wasn’t discouraged. Tjong had all afternoon to try again during the Forsyth County Archery Club’s second annual Thanksgiving charity shoot.

After learning about the event, Robert Tjong of Cumming brought his 6-year-old son to try out the sport he once practiced.

“Hopefully, he’ll get the bug,” Robert Tjong said.

Saturday’s event at Ducktown Park focused on teaching archery, especially to children, as well as collecting money and canned goods for the food bank at The Place of Forsyth County, a nonprofit social services agency.

“We’re out here raising money and hopefully a whole mountain of food for our community,” said Kevin Cully, an archery club coach and the organizer of the charity shoot.

The group brought in about 200 pounds of food and $367, double the food total and quadruple the funds raised last year.

The archery club, associated with 4-H, started about five years ago with seven members and one coach.

Now with five coaches and nearly 40 members, it continues to spread the sport and encourage the club motto of TFI, or total family involvement.

On Saturday, several families donated money or food so each member could give archery a try.

Cully said the individual sport is one in which the whole family can participate and progress at the same rate.

Throughout the day, more than 60 people shot arrows, with the club providing equipment for those who needed it.

Targets from 10 to 40 meters away, some with candy or prizes, covered the field at the park.

The golden arrow target had a long line of children. For $1 per shot, archers could aim at the more difficult target covered in cards, each of which held the name of a prize.

Drey Woodson was hoping for a LEGO Bionicle.

The 10-year-old had tried archery for the first time about three or four weeks ago with the club. His parents, Bill and Regina Woodson, joined him Saturday.

“We figured we’d experience the same thing he’s experiencing,” said Regina Woodson, showing off a bruise inside her elbow, a common archery injury.

Drey Woodson shot at several targets during the afternoon, including some of the more distant ones.

He managed to launch two behind the fences at the other end of the field, which he told his parents about with pride and a big smile.

For Cully, that look is what keeps him teaching.

“There is nothing like when a brand-new kid comes out, and he flings that arrow out there,” he said. “Then he turns and looks at his parents like, ‘Did you see what I just did?’”

Cully became involved with archery after his two sons attended a practice with their mother, Kim Cully, who learned about it through an e-mail.

He was asked to help at one practice and discovered a love for archery. 4-H covered his initial coach’s training, and he later paid for more instruction.

Though the few other clubs in the state may focus more on the competitive aspects of archery, the local group is one of the largest because of its emphasis on teaching the sport to anyone.

The club practices every Saturday at Ducktown Park, though it will be off for the holidays until Jan. 2.

Events like Saturday’s charity shoot do more than just provide Thanksgiving food for local families. First-timers get a taste for archery, raising the local excitement for the sport.

“Once you shoot one (arrow), you kind of get hooked,” Kim Cully said.