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Shooting for perfection

Archery champion Jack Cason introduces others to the sport

Created date

July 26th, 2011

While driving home one Sunday afternoon in his native Florida, Jack Cason was intrigued by signs announcing a local archery competition. I thought I d check it out, he says. What I saw looked like a lot of fun. Now, eight years later, Jack is not only a National Senior Games archery champion, but the well-respected leader of the archery club at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va. Archery is a sport that exercises both your mind and your body, he says. It s also a sport you can start at any time, whether you re 7 or 97. I never want anyone to stay away from the sport because they are afraid they won t be able to draw back the bow. That s simply not the case. The bow weight is adjustable, allowing everyone the opportunity to shoot.

Breaking records

Shortly after that life-changing Sunday afternoon, Jack began learning more about archery, competing in both local and regional competitions. Just a year into the sport, he attended the 2005 Summer National Senior Games in Pittsburg, Pa., winning the silver medal. It was a wonderful experience, says Jack, one that kept me practicing as often as I could. Since those first games, Jack has been back twice to the Summer National Senior Games, which are held every two years. In 2009, he traveled to Palo Alto, Calif., and in 2011 he competed in Houston, Tex., where he won the gold medal!

Bringing the fun home

Jack s enthusiasm for the sport is contagious. Within months of moving to Greenspring, he was approached by a neighbor who hoped he would start an archery club. I thought it was a terrific idea, he says, but at the time I was shooting more than 20 miles away and I figured that would be too far to take our group. I then discovered the facilities at Ft. Belvoir, only nine miles away. They have some of the best ranges I have ever been on. Every Monday, the Greenspring archery group travels to the Fort Belvoir indoor archery range and enjoys full use of the range for an hour and a half. The cost is $5 per trip and includes the use of bows, arrows, targets, and professional instruction. Before anyone is given a bow to shoot, the instructor teaches range safety and information regarding the equipment, says Jack. It s only then that you can go up to the line and begin. Each person typically begins rather close to the target at about 20 yards and moves back as their accuracy grows. Curiosity drew me to the archery club, says Ann Daniels. It is something I d never done before and I found it easy enough to learn. Both the Ft. Belvoir instructor and Jack are very good teachers. In my native Japan, archery is a very well-respected sport, says Chiyoko Tilley, another archery club member. Only a very few people are given the honor to play. When I heard about the Greenspring club, I really wanted to give it a try. It s a wonderful opportunity.

Quick learners

Jack works hard to both encourage the club s members and make the experience fun. Sometimes I get balloons for us to shoot at, he says. That s always fun. We also watch informational DVDs when we are not at the range. These are helpful as they provide tips on how to shoot, release, and stand. But the biggest secret to successful archery is practice, practice, practice, and repetition. I tell our members perfect practice makes perfect. It s true, agrees Chiyoko. Practicing the same technique each time not only helps you remember all the steps but really helps you improve. For me, the best part is the satisfaction of hitting the target, says Ann. It s fun and a great way to get out and enjoy exercise and friends. The experience has been wonderful.