The Loris Middle School Lions have recently returned from back to back trips to Louisville, Ky. They have competed in the NASP, National Archery in the School Program, National and World Competition. During the competition, they have represented the school and community proudly.

NASP started in the community at Loris Elementary School and found its way into Loris Middle School four years ago, under the direction of Coach Darrell Graham and Coach Lee Heckathorn. Since then the program has grown into a success. While on the trip Coach Graham was asked about the improvement of the team and he stated, “Four years ago, we were hoping someone would shoot 200 or better, now we have archers shooting 250 and better on a consistent basis, so the goals have changed, but we are always looking to improve.”

Archers are from grades 6-8, but experience levels vary as Loris Middle is a melting pot of students from Loris Elementary and Daisy Elementary and the occasional transfer.

Tryouts for the 2018 season started Nov. 4, with around 50 students. Twenty-four archers were picked based on a number of characteristics and not on shooting alone. With the team in place, practice began Nov. 11, for a team that would show dedication and hard-work is essential for meeting and exceeding goals set for that year.

Tournaments are divided into two portions, Bullseye is shot at a 10 ring traditional looking round target from 10 and 15 meters, while the 3D portion is shot at life-like animal with smaller scoring rings and at varying distances. Scoring is done differently in both divisions as well. Bullseye takes the four highest boys and four highest girls, with the next four highest coming from either for a total of 12 archers. However, 3D only takes the two highest from each gender and the next two highest scores for a total of six archers.

The road to Louisville began Nov. 11 and has been full of ups and downs along the way, with the first tournament being in Myrtle Beach on Jan. 26. There the archers competed against schools in the region with Loris Middle finishing fourth in the Bullseye portion and second in the 3D competition.

With this competition completed, goal number one had been met, led by top shooters River Mishoe and Bre’anna Wright on the bullseye side and Tucker Graham and Bre’anna Wright on the 3D portion, respectively.

The next obstacle would be the state tournament, held in Sumter. The early morning and long ride March 29 did not deter the fighting spirit of this group as they placed 13th in the Bullseye, led by River Mishoe and Bre’anna Wright. The 3D portion, also led by River Mishoe and Bre’anna Wright, put the Lions in the five spot. While placement seems a little low, total scores as a team effort, were enough to secure a spot at the National Tournament. Goal two completed.

This group’s determination and persistence has been shown, now comes the obstacle that can only be overcome with generosity and community support. The National Tournament was at hand, but the price was great and the road was long. The team decided to request sponsorships from local supporters, both individuals and businesses. The plan was for every $100 donation, your name or business name would appear on the back of the shirt that was to be worn at the National Tournament in Louisville. Businesses of every kind in Loris helped with this endeavor but something else was becoming evident in the process. Rival communities, albeit football rivalries, were contributing as well and soon the team had sponsors from North Myrtle Beach, Green Sea and even Tabor City. What a way to show support for a great bunch of kids than to bury the proverbial hatchet. With community support from local businesses, people, Horry County Council and Horry County School Board, they were on the way to Louisville.

Arriving in Louisville May 10, Loris Middle was ready to show their Lion pride on the national stage, finishing with a score of 3157 in the Bullseye tournament and 1597 in the 3D tournament. These scores were the highest the Lions have ever scored and with only three South Carolina public middle schools finishing ahead of them, they had qualified to return to Louisville for the World Tournament.

The archers who led the way for this tournament was Gunner Fowler and Bre’anna Wright in the Bullseye and River Mishoe was top shooter in the 3D portion with fellow archer Bre’anna Wright.

As the road to the World Championships was getting shorter, so was the timeframe to raise the funds for a return trip. Using savings from the previous trip on top of a couple of fundraisers, the return trip was in order.

Although the kids were ecstatic to be competing on the World Stage, the emotions were mixed. Some were as cool as the other side of the pillow and some were very nervous. A little motivation and a few pep talks later, it was time to shoot and shoot they did.

Breaking their previous record, set just weeks earlier, this group peaked at just the right time to show off their hard work and many hours of practice. In the Bullseye Tournament, led by Jackson Graham and Toni Cox, they scored 3159. Some might say that is a small improvement, but I say if football is a game of inches, archery is a game of ones and zeros. A single point can move you from the top 20 percent to the lower 50 percent. Keeping your emotions in check and your mechanics consistent is what separates the top tiers and the newcomers.

The 3D portion was no different improving their score to 1607. This increase was propelled by top shooters Gunner Fowler and Bre’anna Wright.

Coach Graham and Heckathorn were able to check off most of their goals for the year and cap off the season with a top 50 finish in the bullseye, placing 46th and a top 25 finish in the 3D, placing 22nd.

Another accomplishment for the team was being the highest ranking public middle school from South Carolina in both the Bullseye and the 3D Tournament. So rest easy everyone, they did us, all of us very proud.

Regardless of who was top shooter for the day, this team was always motivated and working towards the bigger picture. We want to say congratulations to all the team members: Aiden McCoy, Ashlee Rinda, Landon Gerald, Brandon Long, Bre’anna Wright, Bryson Smith, Cayden McClure, Courtney Galloway, Dee’on Bellamy, Gunner Fowler, River Fowler, Jackson Graham, John Mark Harris, Landon Gerrald, Mary Grace Dunn, Maxon Scabery, Miranda Taylor, Nicholas Salinas, Patrick Blanton, River Mishoe, Sarah Protz, Sebastian Robinson, Toni Cox, Tucker Graham and Walker Suggs.

On behalf of the Loris Middle School Archery Team, we would like to thank the following sponsors: 5 Star Guns, Allens Demolition, Allens Scrap Metal, Anderson Brothers Bank, Asi Enviromental, Atlantic Coast Medical Transport, BC Towing, Bella Hair Studio, Blanton Supplies, Brogden Electric, Caines Dry Cleaners, Callie Wise State Farm Agent, Carolina Dental Care, Cathy’s Loris Cash And Dash, Chris’ Pizza, Coastline Plumbing, Commercial Kitchens, Community Motors, Cottons Trucking, Diamondback Golf Course, Doe Quality Works LLC, Down At The Barbershop, Dr. Mike Mills, Attorney Ezizze Davis Foxworth, Felipe And Susan Salinas, First Choice Heating And Air, Gore Construction Co., Gurley Baptist Church, Harrell’s Performance & Exhaust, HD Audio & Video, Heavenly Paws Pet Crematory, Holley And Mickey Holland, Horry Telephone, Imagination Athletics, Jill Barnes, Josephs Law Firm, K & L Cleaning, Kei Shin Karate, Kool Freeze, Live Oak Baptist Church, Loris Drug Store, Loris Eye Associates, Lower Carolina Surveying, Mrs. T, Pat Wilshire, Pike-McFarland-Hall Associates, Powers Pharmacy, Quality Auto Parts, Quality Cars, Rivertown Credit, Santino’s Pizza, SC Rock, Sew Cool Stuff, Southeastern Freight Line, Stephens Nursery, Sugar Shack, Tax Savvy LLC, The Back Porch, Top Notch Maintenance Repair and Roofing, Waccamaw Publishers, Inc., W.F. Cox Company, Wilsons Body Shop, Horry County Council, and Horry County School Board.

It was a great season for this amazing group of archers and we are looking forward to many great things to come. Keep up the good work coaches, and thank you for all the support.

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