RAPID CITY, SD – For the third year, the Porcupine Archery Club and the Oglala Lakota County School District installed compound bows and arrows at the Lakota Nation Invitational.
Tim Villa helped organize the archery competition and was delighted to see local children participating in a traditional but still competitive sport.
“My goal as a coordinator was just to make it nice and relaxed, organized, 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 sport and my friends,” says Autumn, a 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 apart, it’s a lot of work, so make them work together as a team, they feel like they belong to something . Villa adds.
Archery also teaches lessons in persistence and focus.
“You’re not necessarily trying to improve yourself compared to the person next to you, you are just trying to improve yourself, so that takes a lot of self-discipline,” says Villa.
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 the students to share their passion for their culture with their friends and competitors.
“It’s cultural,” says Villa, “a lot of kids say, ‘It’s in my blood,’ and it really is. “
The top 12 shooters are placed in an elimination bracket to end the competition.