BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School archery team has concluded its current season, and on Thursday, that season got a little sweeter when Buckhannon Toyota donated $10,000 to the Buckhannon-Upshur archery program.
The middle school archery team recently returned home after placing 12th out of 45 teams in the National Archery in Schools Program World Championship in Nashville, Tennessee. On Thursday, Jason Minsker, president of Buckhannon Toyota, and Kip Cottrill, general manager of Buckhannon Toyota, presented the donation to the Buckhannon teams.
“It’s something that we’ve been talking about for awhile,” Minsker said. “We saw the success of the program, and it really drew us to it. We really looked at it and saw how many kids are involved, and how many people it actually touches. There’s a couple hundred kids involved in this, so that really made us think that this was something really worthwhile.”
Head coach for the Upshur County Archery and Air Rifle program Russ Warner said the programs average around 200 to 250 participants in archery and about 35 to 50 in air rifle; they include elementary, middle school and high school-level teams.
“Every year, we’re the largest 4-H program in the nation,” Warner said. “We’re the only air rifle program sponsored by a school in the nation. We’re the largest archery program in the state.”
Warner said with the growing skill of his teams, the cost of attending tournaments and purchasing equipment has gone up, so receiving this donation helps their teams compete.
“We raise $35,000 to $45,000 a year for our program, and that’s going to nationals and the world’s now, and as our teams have gotten better, that’s a consistent thing,” Warner said. “Next year, both of our teams have the ability to win the states and go to nationals, and I’m predicting in the top 10 in the nation, and that means another trip to the world’s if the parents want to go.”
Buckhannon Toyota is the first business to sponsor the archery and air rifle programs and Minsker said they decided to donate to help the students build on their current success.
“It’s a good program, and we believe in it, so that’s why we wanted to do it,” Minsker said. “They’ve been pretty self-sufficient so far, and we just wanted to try to help them along in any way we could, and try to make sure they could continue to operate at the level they have achieved.”
The $10,000 will go toward equipment, travel, teams’ shirts and the $500 scholarships the programs provide to their graduating seniors every year.
“This donation will sponsor all of our tournaments and it also sponsors the scholarships for all of our graduating seniors,” Warner said. “We generally have anywhere from six to 10 graduating seniors or more; one year we had 12. We’re the only team program that gives our graduating seniors a scholarship because we want our kids to go on and continue their education.”
The donation will benefit all three archery divisions and both air rifle teams. Archery will start up again the first week of November and air rifle will begin again the first Saturday or Sunday of October.