Students at one local high school are aiming for new skills outside of the classroom. They’re doing this with bow and arrows and they are right on target to becoming national contenders.
The Hixson High School Archery Team hasn't been around long.
When they started four years ago they had just six members, now they're 52 strong.
"I’ve seen kids grow in their confidence; I’ve seen kids come out of their shells and comfort zones,” Jimmy Bowers said.
By day he is Officer Bowers, the School Resource Officer. After school hours he's Coach Bowers. He’s been with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for the last 15 years and served as the SRO a HHS for the last five.
He knows, investing in bows and arrows can help students hit bigger targets down the road.
"I can see that they know what they're doing, but they are struggling for it to click and then they finally have it click and they get it. Life is the exact same way,” Bowers said.
Morgan Harding has been on the archery team since the 8th grade. She says the sport doesn't require endurance or much athletic ability, it's all about focus.
"It’s extremely mental if you're in the wrong mindset, you can be the best shooter, but you'll miss the target and it's a stress reliever and it teaches you how to channel different aspects of your mind,” Harding said.
Beyond learning new skills they learn the importance of sportsmanship, values that carry on into the classroom.
It’s an unlikely match up, an officer teaching students how to use a bow and arrow, but students see a lot more.
"A lot of people see the sro as just the cop at her school. But he is very dedicated to the students and he does a lot besides just being the SRO,” Harding said.
For officer bowers that's why he does it. The archery club hits a bulls eye with students, leading them on the right path to a target you can't teach in a classroom.
"They don't care about race, color, creed, sexuality, they don't care about grades, they don't care about anything else, they just care about the team and archery,” Bowers said.
Hixson’s archery team has won four Hamilton County Archery Tournament Championships and placed 12th in state.
They have their eyes on an even larger target - and that's nationals in Louisville, Kentucky next year.
SRO Bowers serves as the unofficial contact for Hamilton County area schools who wish to create a NASP sponsored team by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA).