What used to be the Sanibel Recreation Center's old basketball court is now their archery range. Up until Dec. 14, the Sanibel Recreation Center will be giving archery lessons to fifth grade and middle school students on Wednesday afternoons from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The first time the Sanibel Recreation Center offered archery was during their summer program four years ago. They originally brought the kids to the Martial Arts University in Cape Coral. After seeing an increase in popularity among archery due to movies like the "Hunger Games" and even TV shows like "The Walking Dead", Dave Defonzo, youth program supervisor at the Sanibel Recreation Center, wanted to make it something they offered there for a few months out of the year.
"Archery is a great fit for the Recreation Department because it's co-ed, accommodates a range of ages and can be considered an independent activity as well as a team oriented sport. Archery also requires a lot of individual poise and form which can be helpful for participants who lack inner focus in other areas " Defonzo said. "It's been a very positive addition to the middle school summer and after-school program line ups, and this year we opened it up to fifth grade as well."
The Sanibel Recreation Department Archery Team with Youth Program Supervisor Dave Defonzo.
Defonzo teaches the basics of archery as well as target skills using compound, recurve and long bows. The kids typically shoot 10 yards away from their target.
"Archers can achieve rank from different distances based on their score. Rank and score help establish a baseline for improvement and individual goals. The standard instructional distance is from 10 yards when shooting with five arrows, and a score of at least 30 obtains the base level rank of archer. Ranks of bowman, expert and master follow with higher scores from the same distance" Defonzo said.
At the end of the program, Defonzo says he sees the confidence in the kids skyrocket to new heights.
"I think they really enjoy the competitive nature of our weekly skill games and the thrill of a bullseye. The whole team does seem to enjoy the raw power or force associated with the bow itself which takes a lot of discipline and patience to master. Of course, a few kids just simply love to hear the crisp loud popping sound of the arrow as it hits the target from 10 yards...but again, fun is job one." Defonzo said.
There are still a couple slots open for this semester's program. Registration includes a team T-shirt, use of archery equipment and transportation to and from events. The cost is $42 for members and $55 for non-members. To sign up, call (239) 472-0345.