Ron Huie believes every child can succeed as an athlete if he or she finds the right sport. That’s why Huie has a passion for the Centershot Archery Program at Gardendale First Baptist Church.
“Kids who might not be able to run fast or aren’t big or naturally gifted athletes can do this,” he said.
“It’s a tremendous ministry for kids. It gives them confidence and they can be a part of a team. Archery fits anybody that wants to do it.”
Centershot is an international ministry with a vision to inspire, serve and partner with local churches to share the gospel using archery to evangelize, disciple, mentor and grow the church family.
“Centershot is a tool to help churches transform their community,” said Centershot president Aaron Scheer. “We deliver the gospel message through the universal sport of archery. Archery is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and Centershot is a tool for churches, camps and missionaries to connect the gospel with that momentum.”
Through the program Gardendale First has seen decisions for Christ and has also witnessed unchurched people joining the team and later becoming involved in the church. Huie said the discipline and focus required for archery helps children grow spiritually and emotionally while they develop as athletes.
Parent and church member Shawn Bell has witnessed that in her children.
“My kids are growing in leaps and bounds,” Bell said. “They realize how important a personal relationship with God is. The most fabulous part is we do this as a family. My husband and kids have all stepped in. This is our family time.”
Churches that partner with Centershot are provided with equipment, training and curriculum. Centershot’s team assists in training and instructor certification.
Safety is a primary concern, with students learning all safety requirements before they ever touch a bow. According to Scheer archery is ranked as the second safest sport according to the National Insurance Institute.
The program offers three league levels. Life Leagues are available to archers of all ages, from 5 to 95, and for singles, couples and families, Scheer said. Centershot Blue Leagues is a pilot program for first responders and law enforcement professionals. Competition Leagues support fourth through twelfth-grade students and children of all ability levels are welcome, Scheer said.
“We have kids with disabilities. We find a way to get them shooting and to empower them,” he said.
Classes at Gardendale First meet once a week for eight weeks and are offered two or three times a year. Sessions include archery lessons and a devotional.
Bible lessons draw a correlation between archery and God’s word with at least one session featuring the gospel message.
Huie uses the bow and arrow to show students how they need God’s power in their lives, just as the bow and arrow must combine to be effective.
Scheer says the program utilizes tools like the Centershot wordless bow to explain the gospel message, drawing on the many archery terms in Scripture.
“Sin is an archery term. It means missing the mark,” he said. “A bow has all the power and forgiveness in the riser. Jesus was a riser as well — He rose on the third day. These are examples of how the wordless bow is used to share the gospel.”
The Gardendale team is part of the North Jefferson Archers Club. Through Scholastic 3-D Archery students participate in tournaments where they compete against other groups, earning awards for their level of achievement.
“We are not the typical team,” Huie said. “We are competitive and disciplined but we do it with love.”
Huie and the Gardendale First ministry were involved with Centershot Ministries almost from its inception. Huie approached church leaders about using the gym for an archery program about the same time Centershot Ministries was beginning to develop an archery program and approach churches to implement the program.
Alabama became the pilot state and in 2006 the Gardendale First program became the state’s pilot, helping to name the ministry and to review the curriculum.
More than a dozen Alabama churches now host an archery program. Centershot operates in 47 states and 26 countries. The program is strong in sub-Saharan Africa and the Dominican Republic.
Centershot Romania was launched in June 2019 and there are plans to bring the program to Cuba and Latin America this fall.
For more information, visit www.centershotministries.org. Interested groups also may contact Ron Huie at 205-910-1993 or Aaron Scheer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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