By Caleb Hennington
Digital Content Editor
Archery is an ancient art that can be found referenced throughout the Bible. Many of the most famous heroes of the Old Testament — like Jonathon, King Saul’s son and friend of David — were archers, as it was a common tool for hunting and war in the ancient world. Years later, the practice of archery is still being taught to new generations through the fun and engaging programs offered by Centershot Ministries.
Since the early 2010s, St. James UMC in Little Rock has hosted its Centershot Archery ministry for kids and adults of all ages who are interested in getting involved in the world of archery.
Kim Anderson, Executive Director of Ministries at St. James UMC, said the program got its start after a man named Jim Emery joined the church in 2012.
“The very day he and his family joined, he asked to meet with me regarding a possible new ministry,” Anderson said. “Jim introduced me and St. James to Centershot Archery. He had run a program at his previous church and asked if St. James would consider such a ministry.”
Anderson said within a few weeks, the church had approved Emery’s proposal, and new equipment was purchased to get the program going.
Centershot Ministries is the main organization that helps to provide the curriculum and training for churches that want to start an archery program at their church.
According to their website, they are a “non-denominational outreach program that shares the Gospel of Jesus using the life-skill of archery.”
Darren Corbin is the current head archery coach for Centershot at St. James. He said he took over the program recently after the last coach left.
“My son joined the program several years back since his archery coach was the person in charge of the program. Two years ago, the person in charge moved out of state and I felt called to continue this program at St. James,” Corbin said.
Last year was tough for the program due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Corbin, but he said they were still able to have about six students participate. Corbin said being able to have the program available was huge for the students and gave them something to look forward to every week.
But it’s not just students that can participate in Centershot. Corbin said the program allows a wide variety of ages — from 4th grade through age 97 — to participate, but people usually fall into certain leagues based on their age.
Centershot Life League is basically the all-ages group and is designed for youth, college, families, couples, men, women, and seniors. Centershot Compete is their competitive league for 4th – 12th grade and offers an opportunity to travel and compete in local, state, and national tournaments. There’s also Centershot Blue which offers law enforcement and first responders a tool for Community Engagement and Officer Wellness.
“School Resource Officers and P.O.S.T Teams can use these leagues and fun shoots to develop trust around positive engagement,” Corbin said.
One of the ways that Centershot Ministries teaches not only archery skills but valuable Biblical lessons is through the LIFE Bow.
The LIFE Bow is a special bow colored-code bow that tells the story of sin and salvation through Jesus Christ; black represents sin, red represents Jesus, white represents purity, blue represents water baptism, green represents growing in faith, the multi-colored string of the bow represents the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, and gold represents the streets of Heaven.
Anderson said the ministry of Centershot fits into the mission at St. James exceptionally well.
“St. James’ mission is To Know Jesus Christ and To Make Him Known,” Anderson said. “Through the Centershot Bible Studies, devotionals, and LIFE Bow, students and their families come to know Jesus Christ. This also gives them the tools to share their faith, thus making Jesus Christ known. This is truly a community outreach program as 100% of participants are not members of St. James.”
Centershot and St. James are currently gearing up for an archery clinic to be held on July 31 at St. James UMC. The event will consist of three separate clinics for different age groups and skill levels.
The first will be an Exploring Archery Clinic from 9:30 – 11:45 a.m. This is for kids entering 6th grade through adults of all ages and is centered toward anyone who would like to know more about archery or is interested in giving archery a try.
The Basic Archery Clinic will be from 1 – 3:30 p.m. and is designed for students in the 6th – 12th grades that have some experience with archery but are wanting to improve their skills.
Finally, the Anyone Can Shoot Clinic will start at 3:30 p.m. and will be hosted by Centershot Coach Darren Corbin. Corbin will be available to answer any questions you may have about starting a Centershot Ministry at your own church.
The cost for the clinic is $5 per person for the Basic or Exploring clinics. The Anyone Can Shoot clinic is free but is limited to 25 participants. Registration for all clinics is required and can be found here.
Corbin said he hopes that more churches in Arkansas will get interested in Centershot after attending the clinic. St. James UMC is currently the only church to offer a Centershot program in Arkansas, according to Corbin.
Anderson said she wants the clinic will build more interest in the program as well and hopes to see more people participate once it’s safe to do so.
“Corbin is really striving to provide a good balance between faith and archery. As more people learn about Centershot, it is our prayer that more individuals and churches will participate in the program. We are happy to share our resources and knowledge with anyone interested.”