On target for excellence

PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG Last weekend 1,750 elementary, middle and high school students from across Iowa gathered at the Iowa State Fairgrounds for the state archery tournament. In addition to shooting arrows at bullseye or 3D targets, the opportunity to win scholarships was on the prize list. Three hundred Iowa schools participate in National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) throughout the year as a portion of their physical education classes. Eighty-six schools sent teams to last weekend's archery tournament. Several central Iowa schools were represented including Grundy Center and South Tama. The tournament sponsors are the Iowa Bowhunters Association, Whitetails Unlimited, the Iowa State Archery Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Safari Club International.

ON TARGET with a bow and arrow is a fantastic school physical education option. The sport is growing in Iowa and many other states as the word gets out of how much fun this activity can provide, and the discipline it instills in kids to improve themselves. Teachers see how this activity raises self confidence for kids and increases their desire to improve in other school subjects. Just in Iowa, nearly 3,600 archers representing 300 schools conduct NASP PE classes. From this large group, some qualified for the state tournament. That is how 1,750 boys and girls qualified for the state tournament and brought them, their parents and family to fill the bleachers at the Jacobson Events Building.

Lily Machart, from Anamosa, won the girls bullseye competition with a score of 297 out of a possible 300. Cassie Allen from Holstein Ridge View won the girls 3D contest scoring 293. On the boys side of the ledger, Jatin Morre of Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont won bullseye top honors with his 293 score. Kade Butterwegge of West Des Moines Stilwell won the 3D contest at a score of 290.

Grundy Center and South Tama sent team members. Grundy Center middle schooler Juliana Corbett tallied a score of 262 in the bullseye round and Stuart Whitehill’s score was 272. High schoolers at Grundy, boys top score getter was Braydon King 271 and girls best scorer was Mary Pruisner also at 271. Continuing with more bullseye archers from South Tama, they had entries in elementary, middle and high school. Elementary girl archer was Josey Wacha, 258 and boys top scorer was Joshua Strong at 254. Middle school division top scorer was Millie Mathes Henle with 267, and boys was JT Keenan at 270. High school representatives saw Kelly Driscoll score 275 for the girls and Hunter Caraccio shot 278. In addition, South Tama archers in the 3D category where the targets were life-like foam animal targets, Josey Wacha tried her aiming skills and nailed a score of 201. Boys 3D shooter was Joshua Strong with 182.

When the dust settled, or should I say when the arrows were tallied at the targets by the judges, scholarship winners took home some big prizes. Senior boys winner was Eli Kempema, from Sergeant Bluff Luton, who received $1,000 for highest 3D score and Brandon Lochner, from Mount Vernon, received $500 for second place 3D. Bullseye top winners for boys were Tanner Bowman, from Johnston, getting $1,500 and second place went to Jack Waskow, Alburnett, taking home a $1,000 scholarship.

The top archer for senior girls was Brooke Paris, from Ottumwa, who won $1,000 on the 3D range. Second place 3D and $500 went to Lauryn Jansen, of Sergeant Bluff Luton. Bullseye category senior Robyn Stillmunkes, of Bellevue, won a $1,500 scholarship and Nyla Kahl, also from Bellevue came in second and has a $1,000 credit for college next fall.

Many of these student archer athletes are busy in other more traditional sports. However, for whatever reasons they have for following a passion for target archery, this scribe gives a tip-of-the-hat salute to them for stepping outside to embrace something other than conventional physical education sports. In archery at NASP program schools, kids of any talent level are not bench-warmers who seldom get to play. Everyone is equal, all can find a niche that allows them to improve themselves and proudly represent their school. So for next year, as juniors turn into seniors, and they are looking for scholarship money credits to assist with the cost of college level studies, do not discount the fun, excitement and prestige one can gain by learning how to accurately shoot arrows from bows. National Archery in the Schools can do that. NASP helps kids get on target for excellence.

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All area farm ponds, lakes and of course the river system is now ice free. If you like catching catfish, this is your time to make the effort to be outside at waters edge with cut bait or dead shad as attractants for the sensitive smelling power of channel catfish. With ice gone, some fish that died last winter while the ice was thick and snow was deep are now being sought after and cleaned up by scrounging catfish, eager to eat after a winter of laying low and inactive. Catfish are one of the most abundant game fish in Iowa. They can be found in any water system. For sure try big reservoirs like Saylorville, Red Rock, Coralville and Rathbun. Iowa also has big glacially dug lakes of north central and northwest Iowa include Storm Lake, East Okoboji, Clear Lake and others. If you don’t want to drive that far, any local river, pond or lake will be worth a try. Good luck and good fishing.

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Iowa’s FISHING REGULATIONS BOOKLET is available at outlet stores. A complete list of license type is shown on page two. If you are age 16 or more, a fishing license will cost $19. The amount of fun and year long value you can obtain by just that purchase will far exceed the money you paid in. Oh by the way, the license, when asked by a conservation officer to see it, will keep you from having to pay a fine. You would not want to do that would you? Of course not. So be legal at all times. This year, as in past years, FREE FISHING weekend is June 1-3. License money is a key ingredient in paying for natural resource management and research. The booklet is full of fishing hints and tips, places to go and other regulations you should become familiar with. A quick read will inform you of things to know regarding fishing in Iowa.

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FUN NIGHT at TAMA COUNTY will be Saturday evening, the 24th, at the Tama County Nature Center located northeast of Toledo. This is an annual fund raising event with a host of excellent items to purchase. Great food from “My Mother’s Place” of Clutier will be served. And this year, a special program on falcons will be presented by Shawn Hawks from the Iowa Raptor Project. Shawn will have a live American Kestrel and a Peregrine Falcon to display for your education and information. How about that for a conservation oriented thing to do and have fun doing it.

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IOWA TAXIDERMISTS ASSOCIATION will have public viewing of their artwork of wildlife static displays on March 24th from 12-5 p.m. and again on Sunday the 25th from 9 a.m. until noon. The location change should be noted. The show needed more floor space to properly do justice for the mounts member taxidermists bring. The site is at Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel located just west of Toledo on Highway 30. Admission is free. And you get to vote for People’s Choice Award. After viewing the high quality wildlife art at this show, picking a People’s Choice is not easy. I hope to see you there. These taxidermists are on target for excellence.

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“Fishermen who miss church on holy days are not necessarily out of communion with God.”

— Paul Quinnett, author

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Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.