Over the next few months, young archers will hone their skills at Flyover Archery in the Uptown Scottsbluff Mall. Dozens of children attend a summer camp to teach them everything there is to know about bows, arrows and the sport of archery.
“That’s it,” said Milinda Laeger, who runs Flyover Archery and organized the camp. “It’s safety, it’s technique. It’s how to stand, how to shoot, how to recover from the target.
Each class meets at Flyover Archery’s indoor range for three hours, 9 a.m. to noon, each week in June.
Different age groups meet on different days. The youngest class, for ages 5 to 9, meets on Tuesdays. An older group, made up of students aged 10 to 13, meets on Wednesdays. A mixed group, 14 and under, meets on Thursdays.
“It was really obvious that we had all these interested young people who maybe weren’t doing 4-H yet and we just wanted to offer it to the kids,” Laeger said. “It started with children of clients showing interest, and then all of a sudden it all exploded.”
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The camp uses a teaching program called NASP, the National School Archery Program.
Dale Harper, a NASP Certified Instructor, leads the classes. Nevaeh Laeger, Milinda’s daughter, assists as a volunteer instructor. Parents also help as instructors. Each class has a minimum of three supervisors.
To allow time for helping individual students, class sizes are no larger than 10 children.
Harper told the younger group on Tuesday, June 7, “It’s something you can do for a lifetime, so you have to learn how to do it right.”
For one activity, Harper placed a dollar bill on top of a target and stuck a golf tee toward the center. The object of the game was for the kids to drop or drop their arrows as close to the tee as possible in order to win the dollar.
Other types of training include target practice, increasing target distance, and even learning from worksheets.
“The last week of the camp, they will organize competitions and launch balloons for prizes. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Laeger said.
Kids will learn skills they can use throughout their lives, and they’ll do it using real equipment, she said. Many campers came prepared.
“These are real legit bows. You could definitely hunt small animals with them if you wanted to,” Laeger said. “Some of the kids brought their own bows, and we obviously had to inspect them and make sure they were up to standard. The other kids, all of those bows are rented from our store. What we did for camp, it is to attribute to each child of each camp (a bow).
Running an archery-focused store means Laeger is able to source supplies for children in need. Her husband, Tim, wanted to open such a store in Scottsbluff precisely because there was none nearby and he wanted one in the area.
The family opened Flyover Archery in Uptown Scottsbluff in 2021. They soon moved to a larger location within the mall.
Their two children have done well in 4-H shooting sports, and her husband also hunts.
“Obviously as a family we love archery and shooting sports,” Laeger said.
She said the youth camps were an extension of the store opening. Here children can learn a new skill in a safe environment.
The store works with Scottsbluff High School and Minatare High School to provide archery equipment and techniques to clubs at those schools. They have also partnered with 4-H clubs in Scotts Bluff County and Goshen County in Wyoming.
The summer camp students said they had fun during their classes. Seven-year-old Barrett McDonald said he wanted to learn archery “because my dad always shoots archery in my backyard and I really want to be able to shoot my bow like he’s able to shoot the his”.
Other children said they liked everyone’s kindness and agreed that they too liked to throw arrows at targets.
“The reason I wanted to do this is because I can do whatever everyone else is,” said 5-year-old Kiera McCathern.
Even more students will be able to learn about archery as Laeger has added new classes for July. She said they will start with children on the June camp waiting lists and are already filling up quickly.
“What happened is that we had such a demand that we will be able to organize two camps in July. These will be Tuesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays will be (kids) ages 6-11 and Fridays ages 12-17,” Laeger said.
Those interested in additional summer camp information can contact Flyover Archery at 308-575-0647.