William Coles, president of the Virgin Islands Archery Federation, said there is a growing local interest in the sport of archery. But, for the sport to grow the federation needs archery instructors and archery range officers.
“To provide the opportunity for more people the federation is actively looking for instructors and range officers,” Coles said.
Two seminars will be held for people interested in becoming involved with the Virgin Islands Archery Program. The seminars will be held on St. Thomas beginning Aug. 1. The courses are: Archery Instructor, a seven-day course; and Archery Range Officer, a one-day course.
Level 1 Archery Instructor Certification is for people interested in teaching archery to youth or adults. The course will cover equipment and how to teach basic shooting techniques.
Archery Range Certification is for archers, instructors, parents or judges. The focus of this course is range safety, setup and conduct. It is mandatory that a certified range officer be present whenever VIAF archery equipment is used.
The instructor will be Ruth Rowe, World Archery certified coach, Pan American champion and Olympian. All necessary equipment for the course will be provided. Those interested can get more information on fees or enroll in the course by sending an email to email@example.com.
The VIAF was founded by Coles and Anne Abernathy in 2012 to encourage lifelong participation in and enjoyment of the sport of archery from the beginner, recreational, and sport levels through the elite and Olympic levels. The VIAF strives to encourage, develop, organize, and promote archery as a sport throughout the Virgin Islands, making the sport of archery accessible to everyone as well as to raise the level of competition of athletes to the elite level.
For the last 10 years, Coles has been teaching archery at Country Day Good Hope School, Manor School, AZ Academy, St. Croix Educational Complex and St. Croix Central High School. He has also given lessons to Boy Scouts and National Guardsman. Coles is in the process of instituting a program at IQRA Academy.
“I have found archery has helped some students with disciplinary problems,” Coles said. “Archery is one place where the students learn there isn’t a gray area. It’s all black and a white.”
Archery has no room for mistakes, Coles said, and students have to understand safety comes first. There is a code of conduct and the students must be good citizens. Participants have to be at least four feet tall.
Coles, who had been on an Olympic rifle team, said he had suffered from migraines but when he started archery he got his migraines under control and he got off medication totally.
During the last week of June, five local archers competed in the XI Copa Juan Enrique Barrios World Ranking tournament in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The competition marked the first time the Virgin Islands fielded an archery team with multiple athletes. The team had three top ten finishes in the men’s and women’s Olympic recurve division (a recurve bow is a bow with tips that curve away from the archer when the bow is strung, giving greater energy and speed to the arrow,) and the lone V.I. place. In an extremely competitive field of compound archers, the Virgin Islands earned a ninth place and the youth reached a fifth-place finish. The V.I. mixed recurve team, composed of one man and one woman, made it to the bronze medal round before being knocked out by a more experienced Puerto Rican team. The V.I. team members that went to Puerto Rico were Amanda Warehime, Cora Warehime, Julio Santiago-Rios, Anne Abernathy, William Coles, and coach Ruth Rowe.
After the conclusion of the qualification tournaments, Coles said, the Virgin Islands earned one archery slot in the Women’s Olympic Recurve class for the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games. It was determined that Anne Abernathy would represent the federation.
“The CACGs are the oldest continuing regional games in the world, and only the Olympics have run longer,” Coles said. “For the federation to have qualified for a spot at these games is a major achievement.”
Based on their individual achievement at this tournament, every member of the V.I. Archery Team is now world ranked. Coach Rowe was pleased with her team’s performance, noting that for four out of the five archers, this was their first competition.
“The team did very well in this tournament and continues to train hard,” Rowe said. “The future for Olympic archery in the Virgin Islands is promising.”
The next major event for the Virgin Islands Archery Team will be the Pan American Championships in Rosario, Argentina, in October.
Federation archery practice is held from 9 a.m. to noon most Saturdays at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted. More information about the federation is available by calling Coles at 1-340-643-0793.