ALLIANCE, Neb. (AP) — The Alliance Archery Club has offered archery training for both adults and children since 1986.

The main focus of the club is teaching children the sport, however, parents often get involved, as well as other sportsmen in the Panhandle.

Rod Planansky, president of the club, said the group grew so rapidly they had to quit advertising due to lack of instructors.

"When this first started, it was completely free. We'd go out and get donations," he said. "Since then, we've gone to where we have to get them to belong to our club. So we have memberships that they have to join our club. That gives us insurance, gives them insurance and it hasn't seemed to slow us down a lot."

Planansky said the club has everything for any person with any skill level to start.

"We just keep growing," he said. "We supply all the bows, all the arrows, all they have to do is show up."

The Scottsbluff Star-Herald reports that Tuesday nights are the youth nights, where students as young as 5 years old receive training. Even though Thursday nights are geared more for adult practice, younger students often show up as well.

"We normally don't coach them on Thursday nights, they just come up and make up a round on their own," Planansky said. "Tuesday nights they have to be hands on."

The majority of club members are children within the ages of five to 18.

Lisa Splattstoesser is an archery club mom, who now also shoots as well as coordinates club business.

"Club membership gets access to an outdoor range at their free will and they get access to the indoor range when we're open," Splattstoesser said.

Splattstoesser said the club is community minded in that more skilled members will help the ones trying to improve.

"Rod says we don't coach on Thursday nights, that's a lie. We might not teach a ton of kids on Thursday nights, but we typically end up helping somebody here and there," she said. "So kids struggle and they'll come up to an instructor whether it's Tuesday night, Thursday night or a competition. That's just kind of how we are."

Instructors are typically other club members.

"They're also parents who shoot or have taken an interest in being involved," Splattstoesser said. "We have four board members who don't have kids involved in youth archery so they just do it because they love archery and they just want to help the kids. The leadership like that is excellent because we know they're doing it because they love what they're doing."

While club dues help with some costs, the club also annually applies for grants that help pay for targets, bows and arrows.

Travis Turman, vice president of the club, explained that one of the grants specifies the money be designated for youth archery.

"That wasn't really a problem. There's enough expense there that it worked out," he said.

Turman is one of the many instructors in the club. He explained they teach the young and beginning students to follow whistle commands to ensure everyone's safety.

"National Archery in the Schools program uses whistle commands. One whistle is shoot, three whistles is go pick up arrows and these kids just gradually pick it up," Turman said. "They know there's no horseplay around here. We have a set of rules we go by and they're usually pretty good at following them. It's a well minded bunch of kids."

Even with the inherent dangers of working with sports that deal with bows and arrows or firearms, it's never been an issue at the Alliance Archery Club.

Splattstoesser said the kids who come through the program not only gain archery skills, they also gain confidence, responsibility and concentration.

"I had a boy last year who had ADD, he was in foster care, it was just a rough situation for him," she said. "He came in here and the people who care for him said he struggles with paying attention and I said, 'We'll work with him.' By the end of that year, his focus was better."

Splattstoesser said even his focus in school had increased since starting archery.

"People would say he was a totally different kid just because he has something that he controls," she said. "Nobody outside of him controls this. He controls how he shoots, how he focuses and it's something he can do for himself."

As an individual sport, archery breaks boundaries like age and grade between kids.

"It's a sport where you don't have to have an innate athletic ability," Turman said. "You don't have to be the fastest or jump the highest; anybody can pick up a bow and shoot. That's the beauty of it."

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Information from: Star-Herald, http://www.starherald.com