PLANT CITY – Katelyn Scott decided to take up archery for one reason.
“Katniss Everdeen,” she said, referencing the heroine from “The Hunger Games.” A popular young adult book and movie series, the heroine repeatedly uses her skills in archery to save the day.
“I saw Katniss and I was like, ‘I have to be Katniss.”
The 15-year-old sophomore at Plant City High School is one of 25 students participating in the new archery club at the school, which held its first practice Sept. 26. For students like Andrew Pullara, who participated in the archery program at Tomlin Middle School, joining the new archery club at Plant City High gives them a chance to further their participation in the sport.
“I did it in Tomlin for three years,” he said. “I was interested in it for a while.”
Other students such as Michael Harris, 14, joined the club after learning the basics from a family member.
“It’s a hobby I took up when my uncle introduced me to it a couple of years ago,” he said.
And still others just wanted to learn the sport for fun.
“It’s fun and challenging and very self-motivated,” said Judy Ventura, a 15-year-old freshman. “You get your stress out and that’s the main part of having fun.”
Dennis Pawlowski, director of Trinity Sportsman Ministries and instructor of the archery club at Plant City High, said that he has seen a rise in the sport’s popularity over the last few years.
“With the way Hollywood is and everything that’s going on it’s definitely gaining in popularity,” he said.
Pawlowski, a Plant City police officer, teaches clinics and leads practices with his archery and bow hunting ministry throughout the community. But he explained that the high school archery club is separate from the ministry and began partly as a way for students graduating from the Tomlin program to continue the sport while in high school.
“Probably 80 percent of them had already gone through the Tomlin program, and they came to Plant City High School with nothing to do,” he said, adding that there are potential college scholarships available in the sport of archery.
While at practice, students start their first lesson by shooting arrows at targets before trying more challenging shots at balloons attached to the center of targets.
Pawlowski explained that the club’s ultimate goal is to compete in the state tournament held in Newberry. Practices will be held every two weeks, though Pawlowski said that he hopes to build the program over time with additional instructors.