By R. Alan Richardson
Morgan County’s 4-H program deserves a big shout-out on the recent success of their senior archery competitors (grades 9-12) that recently won the Georgia State Championships in both compound and recurve bow shooting. After taking home the trophy, the team headed out to Grand Island, Nebraska, to go head-to-head with the best shooters in the country at the Nationals. Morgan shot extremely well grabbing a fourth place finish in compound and a fifth place in recurve for the entire country and some 175 shooters.
Morgan’s compound team consisted of Jacob Vaughters, Kevin Smith, Mary Beth Smith, and Alex Kuntz. The recurve squad was made up of Ashley Pincus, Chris Lott, Chloe Garrison, and Riley Ellwood. Kevin Smith finished sixth overall for the compound team while Vaughters was close behind with a ninth place finish. Pincus grabbed ninth place overall in recurve shooting.
Coaches Danny Pincus and Andy Vaughters are no strangers to the sport and both have children that participated in Nebraska. Pincus has been coaching the team since the program was started in 2002. He started out as a newcomer to shooting when his oldest daughter, Stephanie (now 22) asked him to get involved. Since then he has earned a Level Four Coach/Trainer status since then while Vaughters is a Level Two Coach. Becoming a Level Four takes a lot of time and effort along with rigorous testing to attain it. Pincus said, “I had to travel to Chulavista, California, for the Level Four and explain the 111 steps it takes to shoot one arrow. The test has a 30% pass rate and the grader just happens to be the Head U.S. Olympic Coach.” Pincus is also a coach and member of JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) It sounds like Pincus is highly qualified to be Morgan’s coach and is a major reason for their success since the inception of the program.
The team and coaches take the sport very seriously with practices beginning in November and continuing through the end of April every year. They have their own practice facility behind the Sheriff’s office, but Pincus has a full-scale practice area at his home where he coaches kids in 4-H and JOAD separately.
Since 2002 the bow shooting teams have won the state title four times and represented the Morgan Chapter four times at the Nationals. This year’s dynamic duo teams are only the second group from the county to send both teams to the National Championships in the same year. That’s quite an accomplishment, according to Pincus.
The National Competition lasts three days and includes three different events to determine the eventual winner. The first event is FITA where the shooters shoot a free-standing archery target with colored circles from distances of from 30-60 meters. Day two moves the competitors into the ‘field’ where they shoot black and white targets from known yardages of 20-50 yards. The final day has the competitors shooting at 3-D full size foam animals from unknown distance of five to 50 yards.
Pincus commented, “The goal of any kid should be to go to Nationals. That’s been the goal of every kid that went to Nebraska since they started shooting around the fifth grade. The exceptions are the Smiths (siblings) who have only been shooting for only about two years now. This year we sent two teams to compete at state and the shooters had to earn a spot within our 4-H club to compete on the #1 team. One thing that separates Georgia from some other states is that many of the teams are made up of the best shooters in the entire state. Georgia only takes teams made up of kids from a single county.
The team was required to foot the bill themselves to make the trip. They sold raffle tickets at Tractor Supply for Yeti coolers, went door-to-door asking for donations, and received some sizeable donations from anonymous donors of up to $5,000. Pincus said, “The kids did it all. The only thing we didn’t have to pay for was the registration fee of $200 per kid. The State donated that along with some shirts for us to wear. It was a lot of fun and the shooters performed well. We are all proud of them.”
In addition to the local teams, Ashley Pincus and Chloe Garrison are members of the East Regional Dream Team, a part of USA archery and a breeding ground for future Olympians. Ashley will also try out for the Junior Dream Team in California this coming November. It consists of the top 36 14-18 year olds in the nation. Congratulations on a fantastic finish and for making Morgan County proud of our 4-H program.