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Middle schoolers were ready, steady and aiming for a win Dec. 4.

Students from all eight Charles County middle schools participated in a middle school archery tournament.

For the last 40 years, middle school students have been participating in archery in the school system. Students say itís a sport anyone can enjoy.

Ronald Smith, 13, from General Smallwood Middle School said he is an avid hunter and likes being able to be a part of the archery team at his school.

He said itís something fun to do and ďyou can relate to others.Ē

He said archery is a sport that anyone can learn.

Troi Stubblefield, 12, from Theodore G. Davis Middle School said archery is a great sport that isnít too athletic and can help a person defend herself.

Troi has a handicap that makes it difficult to hold a bow and arrow on her own, but with the help of PVC pipes fitted to her arm to connect with the bow and her coach holding part of the bow to take some of the weight off, she was able to shoot like all the other students.

She said for those who have a disability, whether itís archery or anything else, ďIf you believe that you can do it, you probably can.Ē

Archery tournament coordinator Bernie Jamieson said he believed he could bring organized sports to the middle schools 41 years ago, and today archery, volleyball, golf, and track and field events are going strong.

Jamieson said he brought archery into the schools because ďitís never been done before.Ē

Back then, he said, there wasnít anything for middle school students when it came to organized sports in the school system.

Archery was something different, and he said students seem to enjoy it.

Davis Middle School archery coach and P.E. teacher Brett Gerhart said archery teaches students safety, how to follow directions and common sense, among other valuable lessons.

He said he enjoys teaching students the sport and, as long as he is teaching, he will coach archery.

One thing students learn about the sport, he said, ďlike all sports, archery is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.Ē

For the tournament, there are two boys and two girls representing each grade.

Each two-pair group is scored as a team for that grade.

Sixth-grade students shoot 15 and 20 yards away from the target, seventh graders shoot from 20 and 25 yards away, and eighth graders shoot from 25 and 30 yards away.

Ethan Martinez, 11, from Matthew Henson Middle School, said archery is more of a mental game than one of skill.

He said one may not always hit the bullís-eye, but ďyou should probably aim for the bullís-eye. Nine out of 10 times, you probably wonít hit it, but youíll hit the target.Ē

Ethan said archery teaches him how to ďbe patient and block out everything.Ē

Archery may have ended for the year in the middle schools, but volleyball is right around the corner, with a tournament scheduled in February.