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Youth archery program opens doors to lifetime fun for Grand Forks-area archers

Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald on

Published in Outdoors

The young archers -- seven girls and two boys on this particular night -- are pictures of concentration as they take the line and raise their bows, carefully aiming at the targets 7 to 10 yards away.

"OK, you can shoot," instructor Jared Duckstad says. "Take your time -- get your stance down.

"If anyone needs help, raise your hand; I'll come and help you."

So goes a typical Thursday night during the spring youth archery lessons at the Red River Archers' indoor shooting range in Grand Forks.

The archery club offers three, one-hour sessions with 10 students each during the five-week program, which is open to young archers from 8 to 17 years old, said Duckstad, who oversees the lessons. Handling the equipment can be a struggle for kids younger than 8, he says, and a class size of 10 is about the maximum the program can handle, given the size of the archery range and the number of available instructors.

The Red River Archers has offered the youth archery lessons for about 15 years, says Duckstad, who's in his fourth season as instructor. This year's program is comprised of 17 boys and 13 girls, he said.

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"We try to run this program at least once a year -- usually every spring after adult leagues are finished and range availability opens up," he said.

Red River Archers member Veronica Hanson, a UND medical student, assists with setup and instruction when her schedule allows, Duckstad says, and club president Jason Whitesock coordinates registration and posts class announcements on websites.

This year's program was scheduled to begin April 11, but a late blizzard delayed the first night until April 18. The lessons wrap up for the spring Thursday, May 16.

Offered on a first-come, first-served basis, the lessons are open to young archers of all skill levels, Duckstad says. Typical classes range from beginners with no experience to intermediate and experienced shooters who sign up for the program every year.

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