The whistle blows.
Four archery students walk to the bows hanging from hooks, grab one, move next to an orange cone with arrows sticking out and place the end of the bow on their toe.
“Are the bows on your toes?” asks Mary Wolf from the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.
“Yes,” they say in unison.
So Wolf blows her whistle. That signal is the recognized sign in the archery world to line up and shoot at the target.
“Twang, thunk, thwap,” the sounds of the arrows ring out as the students shoot them from their bows and the arrows hit the black rubber targets. The archers finish and turn toward Wolf waiting.
“Great job you guys!” said Wolf. “Since you’ve all shot, go ahead and pull out your arrows.”
The four archers walk forward and pull out the arrows dropping them into the center of the orange cones.
Wolf said so many people want archery lessons that she could only take nine out of the 13 children on her wait list for the class.
The class stresses safety and requires Wolf to have special training. Before the children can pick up a bow and shoot an arrow, they go through a safety training class.
Gage Nottingham, a fifth-grader from Julia Randall Elementary School, said he took the Parks and Rec class because he could not get into the JRE class.
“Only 30 got in, but 50 wanted to,” he said.
4-H offers an archery class run by Rim Country veterinarian Drew Justice and author and animal anesthesia specialist Ken Crump.
The 4-H program fills up quickly as well.
Payson is riddled with archery families, including Wolf’s.
“I started archery to spend time with my husband,” she said.
Although she organizes all of the recreational sports teams for the Parks and Rec department, she finds time to teach archery since she is the only one certified to teach the sport for the Town of Payson.
“I don’t want the kids to miss out,” she said of her commitment.
Gage appreciates the chance to take the class since he also comes from an archery family. He said most of his uncles bow hunt. They go out for elk and a little bit of white tailed deer.
Gage practices at home with a bow he bought at a tag sale. He even makes his own string.
“My neighbors have hay string. It’s basically like rope,” he said. “I go into the woods around my house and try to shoot rabbits.”
He took the class for more practice since the rabbits give him quite a challenge, but so did the class.
To spice things up, Wolf blew up balloons and stuck them to the target. “Hey guys, I bet I can pop the balloon on the first try,” said Gage to his buddies in the second group of Parks and Rec archers.
It takes him two tries, but he popped it.
For questions regarding sports activities, please call Mary Wolf, athletic coordinator, at (928) 474-5242, ext. 358. Or visit www. paysonrimcountry.com.