Fort Mill Times

Springfield straight as arrow at nationals

Members of the Springfield Elementary archery team take aim at the national competition in Kentucky.
Members of the Springfield Elementary archery team take aim at the national competition in Kentucky.

Inside the multipurpose room at Springfield Elementary School, a row of fifth-graders step to the line and take aim.

Bows go up. Arms reach back. In rapid-fire succession, a rush of arrows zooms through the air. A whoosh and then a thwack, as each arrow smacks into its destination.

Welcome to archery practice at Springfield, home of the best fifth-grade marksmen -- and women -- in South Carolina.

Dozens of after-school practices like this one helped the team win its second straight state title this year. Last week, 22 top performers traveled to Louisville, Ky., to compete in the national competition. Springfield made its best ever showing, scoring 2,670 points. Trigg County Intermediate (Ky.) won the national title with 3,233 points.

"We smashed our team records and if we continue to improve at this rate we will be giving the schools from Ohio and Kentucky a run for their money next year," said Springfield Coach John Barrow. "I can't say how proud I am of our archers and the way they represented Springfield Elementary, Fort Mill, and the great state of South Carolina!"

Cleve Fisher was the high scoring boy for the Mustangs with a 246. Hannah Chatfield was the high scoring girl with a 232.

So what's the secret to getting bull's-eyes? These kids were willing to share some insights before departing for The Show.

"It's about putting your game face on," says 11-year-old Kylyn Suarez.

Barrow knew basically nothing about archery when he agreed to take on coaching duties. Four years ago, Barrow moved to Fort Mill from Reno, Nevada. He had grown tired of his job as manager of an insurance office, and decided to go into teaching. Barrow researched school districts across the country, settling on Fort Mill after reading about its good reputation.

Seventy students joined this year. It's one of the few sports that allows boys and girls to compete on equal levels, even if some young archers don't want to admit it.

The Fort Mill Times contributed to this story.