A group of Albany elementary school students are hitting the mark as they continue a tradition of excellence.
The Lake Park Archery team was formed five years ago, and since then, the team has made it to the national tournament each year.
Coach Jeremy McKinley says the archery team is incredibly popular and competitive.
"Usually I have about 150 kids to choose from. And the most I can have on the team is 24," he says. "It's a big turnout every year."
The team is made up of 4th and 5th graders.
"All that goes through my mind is do your best," says 5th grader Amelia Snipes. "I don't even care about if I win or not. I just want to do my best and show the coaches that I can do it hard and show him that I do my best."
McKinley says archery is two-week program taught in the P. E. classes every year. After the program has concluded, he holds tryouts for the team.
He says he thinks the sport has grown in popularity with the students because it's something for everyone.
"It's hand-eye coordination. It's not just throwing a ball around," he says. "You don't have to have an athletic ability. You don't have to be a certain size. You don't have to be a certain height. Anybody can do it."
"Ever since I picked up a bow, I've just loved it," says 4th grader Lawrence Carpenter, who is in his first year with the team.
The team hopes to make it back to Louisville, Kentucky for the National Archery in the Schools Program Nationals this year.
McKinley says the team enjoys having to live up to the traditions.
"Even when we start the P. E. class, everyone's asking about Kentucky," McKinley says. "Once we put the team together, the first question is always 'When are we going to Nationals?'"
One of the Lakers' archers is becoming a master with the bow.
Nathan Masters, a 5th grader, hopes to make it back to the World Championships, where he competed in 2013.
Masters says he's like a lot of his fellow teammates as his interest in archery peaked after the P. E. program.
Now the young archer says he'd like to compete in the Olympics one day.
"You want to be up there at the top with everyone else," Masters says. "I enjoy having fun with it, but I would like to try out for the Olympics."
The Lake Park archery team competes at the Regionals Saturday, February 8 in Leesburg.
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