Archery hits the mark at Lakota Nation Invitational

RAPID CITY, SD — For the third year, the Porcupine Archery Club and the Oglala Lakota County School District have set up a compound bow and arrow at the Lakota Nation Invitational.

Tim Villa helped organize the archery competition and was delighted to see local children taking part in a traditional but still competitive sport.

“My goal as coordinator was just to make things nice and relaxed, organized and fun,” he says. “If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.”

For many student shooters, the fun didn’t necessarily come from hitting the target.

“It’s the sport and my friends,” says Autumn, shooter at Lakota Tech. “They support me a lot and they help me.”

Organizers say a sense of community and belonging is just as important as discipline.

“Even though it’s an individual sport, you work as a team, set up the equipment, take the equipment down, it’s a lot of work, so having them work as a team, they feel like belong to something,” Villa adds.

Archery also teaches lessons of perseverance and concentration.

“You’re not necessarily trying to become better than the person next to you, you’re just trying to improve yourself, so that takes a lot of self-discipline,” Villa says.

Although modern equipment is used, the sport remains steeped in tradition.

“We shoot with compound bows instead of the traditional Lakota-style bow, but it gives all the kids the exact same equipment so they can compete fairly.”

The friendly competition allowed students to share their passion for their culture with friends and competitors.

“It’s cultural,” Villa says, “a lot of kids say, ‘It’s in my blood,’ and it really is.”

The top 12 shooters are seeded into an elimination bracket to end the competition.

Earnest A. Martinez