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Aiming for Archery Excellence : Kale Renfro

“If you believe you can, you might. If you know you can, you will.”
~Steve Mariboli
story by Katrice Williams     photos by Tonya Perry
Thirteen-year-old Kale Renfro is quite comfortable “following his own arrow,” believing that striving and aiming towards excellence will always be right on target. The young Effingham native is an 8th grader at South Effingham Middle School, and he is already an avid archer. Kale’s mom and dad, Staci and Alex Renfro, learned of their son’s interest in the sport about three years ago. Actually, Kale’s school is affiliated with the Springfield 4-H Club, which offers an archery program. Kale’s interest in archery was of little surprise, since his dad, one of his biggest mentors, “has always loved hunting.” Though Kale “never cared much for hunting,” archery was the next best thing.
“You don’t have to be a hunter to love archery,” he said.
Kale enjoys practicing with his 4-H team and at home. Whether practicing for the indoor season in Springfield at the 4-H gym or the outdoor season at Honey Ridge plantation, Kale already knows that his skill level grows with each practice. He also understands the necessity of having good equipment. He remembers his mom and dad taking him to get his very first bow.
“It was a Bear Bow…a compound bow. It looked really cool…an orange camo,” he recalled. A compound bow “uses a cable and pulley levering system to bend the limbs;” this gives the sportsman a “mechanical advantage.” Hence, it is a great choice for beginners. The limbs are “stiffer” than those on other bows, thus “improving accuracy and power” especially over longer distances, greatly due to its uniquely modernized construction and design. That can be a plus, especially since 4-H has a maximum shooting range of 50 yards. What’s more, with the rigidity of the bow, Kale “pulls approximately 45-50 pounds each time he pulls back [his] bowstring.” That can certainly be a workout, considering how often Kale uses his bow, both in practices and tournaments. He normally uses paper targets when performing with his 4-H team. Kale values his time practicing; all of his preparation definitely pays off. Outdoor tournaments are held at the 4-H camp in Eatonton, Georgia, while indoor competitions are held at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, Georgia.
As 4-H was his introduction into archery, Kale is very grateful to all of his 4-H volunteer coaches that have helped him over the years. Alongside his dad, Nicky Smith, Steven Sewell, Henry Kessler, Derrick Zipperer and Josh Mosley have all played an instrumental role in him being the talented, young archer that he is today. Their selfless dedication to the entire team has been remarkable.
Kale, too, has been participating in Scholastic 3-D Archery, S3DA, at Warrior Archery in Tattnall County under the leadership of coordinator Aric Clements. S3DA is a nationwide program and has been rapidly growing for quite a while, allowing for both indoor and outdoor archery fun. It benefits young, aspiring archers by introducing them to the “fundamentals of archery and principles of marksmanship.” Group instruction is offered by skilled coaches with various tournament opportunities on local, state and national levels. Much like the 4-H program, S3DA strives to instill such skills as discipline and self-confidence into young enthusiasts. Kale, however, found that there were notable differences in S3DA and 4-H archery, especially the target. Targets are usually 3-D and are either paper or various animal-forms that are made of durable foam; some animals include deer, hog, boar, bear, coyote and various others. Each target features rings that are scored using a scale from 0-12, with 12 being the highest. Interestingly enough, Kale’s parents bought him a 3-D animal target for practice, a pig, who he calls “Joey.” Further, Kale now uses an additional bow, a High-Country Bow, which is commonly used with 3-D targets and is effective for both beginners and advanced archers. S3DA archers use a variety of ranges, with a maximum range of 30 yards.
S3DA offers an array of great scholarships to its high school archers who qualify, some even getting a “full-ride.” Staci and Alex are certainly excited about that. Staci mentions that many college representatives are often present at the national competition. S3DA athletes may also earn monetary rewards when they win competitions. Understanding the benefit of the organization, the parents would like to have an S3DA club in the local area, since the closest one is in Tattnall. Aric Clements is currently trying to assist with those efforts.
“He is really trying to help us get one,” Staci said.
Kale has competed in several states, but normally competes in North Georgia. In fact, he won the “Georgia State Title for Middle School Fixed Pins” this past May in Maysville, Georgia. It afforded him several medals, trophies and even a uniquely elaborate state championship belt buckle. Staci remembers that it was quite a nail-biting event, as Kale and four other competitors went head-to-head in a shoot-off.
“Only three points separated 1st and 5th place,” Kale recalled.
Staci and Alex were anxiously awaiting the outcome. The two were nervous when they noticed that Kale had “zeroed in on the wrong target,” which is very easy to do with an array of various random targets lined up and down a long range; however, hitting the wrong target will land a competitor a zero. Only seconds prior to shooting, Kale quickly and nearly unnoticeably changed his aim.
The state coordinator, who was anxiously pacing back-and-forth, yelled, “Oh my gosh…I think he’s gotten a 10!” That proved to be quite a memorable event for Kale.
“I was lucky on that,” he said.
Kale then went to nationals in Metropolis, Illinois in June. Over 1,000 other young archers from all over the US competed in various categories. He was proud to place 3rd in the “Superman City Tournament.”
Kale knows that without the consistent support of some outstanding mentors in his life, he would not be where he is now. He mentions Bill Whalley and Evan Fox. He appreciates “their knowledge and skill,” along with all of their help in the sport; their diligence and dedication have been priceless.
“I look up to both of them,” he said.
Additionally, Kale is incredibly thankful for Freddie Jones, who he feels is an “all-around mentor.” He feels very privileged to have the love, support and efforts of his mom and dad, who are “persistent to assure that he follows his dreams.” In addition, Kale is extremely grateful to have some truly supportive and proud grandparents: his “NeNe” Pam White and “PaPa” David White, along with his “Nan-Nan” Shelley Renfro. He also appreciates all of his sponsors, whose support helps him to accomplish his archery goals.
Aside from archery, Kale is an honor student with various interests, including his participation in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at school. He has been an “inventive, creative, problem-solver” for quite some time. Kale enjoys basketball and plays football for his school. He has also been deemed as quite the “handy-man” with an incredible work ethic, as he often helps his NeNe and PaPa with tons of projects around the house.
“I’m very proud of him; I can really see him going places,” NeNe stated.
Kale is going places, indeed, and the target certainly looks good for this talented young man.
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