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Clayton County Parks, Rec offers archery program

Photo by Jeylin White                               
Paul Smith, 62, maintenance worker for Clayton County Parks and Recreation, practices shooting arrows at the Clayton County International Park in Jonesboro.

Photo by Jeylin White Paul Smith, 62, maintenance worker for Clayton County Parks and Recreation, practices shooting arrows at the Clayton County International Park in Jonesboro.

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Photo by Jeylin White Ahmed Johnson, Clayton County Parks and Recreation archery instructor, places a balloon on the target ring to teach participants aiming techniques.

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Photo by Jeylin White Finger tabs are worn to keep participants from cutting their hands on the bows string.

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Photo by Jeylin White These protective arm gears are worn on the forearms to keep the string from the bow from rubbing or cutting the arm.

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Photo by Jeylin White Paul Smith, senior maintenance worker for Clayton County Parks and Recreation, removes his arrows from the target ring.

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Photo by Jeylin White Clayton County Parks and Recreation archery instructor Ahmed Johnson (right) and Paul Smith, Clayton County Parks and Recreation senior maintenance worker reposition the archery ring for target practice.

Clayton County Parks and Recreation launched a new “Archery Program” for seniors 55 and older last month at the Clayton County International Park. Paul Smith, 62, noticed the advertisement for the new program, and said it immediately “sparked” his interest.

“As a kid, I had a bow and arrow kit,” said Smith, a senior maintenance worker at the park. “When I saw they were offering this class, I had to sign up.”

Every Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to noon, seniors can learn the basic art of using a bow and arrow at the park, a.k.a. “The Beach,” located at 2300 Hwy 138 S.E., in Jonesboro. According to Clayton County Parks and Recreation archery instructor Ahmed Johnson, the class is free and open to the public.

Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow. Historically, it was used for hunting and combat, while in modern times, its main use is that of a recreational activity, he said.

“I like teaching archery — it’s different and it’s not the usual sports we offer,” said Johnson. “It’s a far cry from basketball and baseball. This program will really allow the [seniors] to get involved.”

He said it was last October when he and fellow Parks and Recreation employees Taurus Gamble and Keith Strong received their certifications to teach the class. Johnson said the first class was launched four weeks ago, in March.

Smith said he has been attending the class since day one and has mastered the archery lingo, aiming methods, shooting technique and form, the different types of arrows, and protective equipment. Most importantly, Smith said, he has been having fun.

“I have been really enjoying myself I have been learning so much from the instructors — I’m like a kid again,” he said jovially.

The students have learned quickly. Johnson said another participant, whom he referred to as Mrs. Smith, could hardly hold a bow steady at the beginning of the class. Now, she’s hitting bull’s eyes without hesitation.

Though the cap for the class is 15, which is five per instructor, Johnson said only five seniors have signed up. Since this is the first time Parks and Recreation has taught archery, the goal is to establish the program with seniors before opening it up to younger adults.

“There are only two more weeks left for people to sign up for the program,” Johnson said. “The next class will not be until August.” The classes last six weeks.

For those interested in signing up, Johnson said to visit the flowing Parks and Recreation centers: Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, located at 3499 Rex Road in Rex; Jim Huie Recreation Center, located at 9045 Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro; or Virginia Burton Gray Recreation Center, located at 1475 East Fayetteville Road in Riverdale.

Johnson said transportation to Clayton County International Park will be provided to participants from all three centers.