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      Archery allowing kids to take aim in the right direction

      Saturday afternoon, it was time to find Horry County's sharpest shooter.

      More than 300 young men and women in grades 4-12 competed in this year's regional archery competition at St. James Middle School.

      "All the equipment worldwide is the same. It's compound genesis bow," South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Kim Leverich said.

      She believes the sport is growing.

      "We've got the Hunger Games movies, Brave. So archery has just soared."

      The event included first comers and last year's station champion A.J. Kelley. He hopes to repeat again.

      "Every time I shoot, I shoot higher and I get more confident," he said. "I just like feeling confident.

      The bow and arrows are tightening the family bonds.

      "It's exciting just hearing the kids saying mom I've got an eight or I've got a nine or dad I got a ten," archery dad Ozell Newman said.

      He and his son, Christian, have a friendly competition of their own.

      "I would say me," Christian replied when asked who is the better shot. Ozell did not argue.

      There's ten rings to register scores, with a bullseye scoring a perfect ten then each ring there after is one less. A 300 score is a perfect game.

      "It feels good to hit the target. It is a competition," archery coach Terry Lee said, "and just the excitement of shooting something that's kind of dangerous.

      But even if the thought of kids using weapons sounds frightening, archery has a surprisingly safe record.

      "It's safer than any other sport other than ping pong," Leverich said. "Ping pong is the only thing that's got a better record."

      The archery program is provided through physical education classes throughout the state.

      The state archery tournament will be held in March.