DALZELL - Andrew Conyers began shooting a bow and arrow with a hunting bow when he was a young child.
"I just started shooting in the backyard with a hunting bow," Conyers said. "Then I got in fourth grade and they had an archery thing (at Thomas …
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"I just started shooting in the backyard with a hunting bow," Conyers said. "Then I got in fourth grade and they had an archery thing (at Thomas Sumter Academy), so I tried it out. (I) didn't really shoot so good in the first few tournaments, but I ended up doing better and started liking it."
That was a little over a year ago and now the fifth grader is one of the best young archers in the country.
Conyers qualified for the world tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, by finishing 12th out of over 2,200 elementary students at the national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. He qualified for nationals by finishing second in the SCISA state tournament individually for elementary students with a 282 out of a possible 300 points.
The school's archery team, which has only been in existence for four years, has won state the last three years.
The biggest adjustment for Conyers was getting used to using archery bows, which are a little different from hunting bows.
"A hunting bow, the strings are way tighter," Conyers said. "To me it's a little easier (with) a hunting bow because it has sights on it. You just got to keep the bow steady and still and have a slow release."
Conyers eventually became more comfortable with an archery bow, as his results have shown.
"Andrew (is) just natural," TSA head coach Mac McLeod said. "It doesn't take a whole lot of coaching, but he practices all the time. He'll come in the morning at 7:30 a.m. and go in the archery room (and) shoot an entire tournament round."
Junior Zach Davis also qualified for nationals by finishing first in the high school division of the state tournament held at Sumter County Civic Center with a score of 292, but decided not to go this year.
Davis has been shooting on the archery team since his freshman year and can remember vividly when he first started out.
"I was in Coach Mac's class when I first learned about it," he said. "We went out behind his classroom and just started shooting as part of the class. And then he told us that they had a team, so I just got on the team."
Davis faced tough competition quickly.
"The first competition I ever shot in was the SCISA state competition," he said. "I think (I shot) like a 263, 264, or something like that. So (for) my first year, I don't think it was too bad."
McLeod admires Davis's dedication to the sport.
"Zach'll come give up his lunch time and go in there (the archery room) and practice sometimes," McLeod said.
Also at the state tournament, TSA seniors Taylor White and Cassidy Brunson both won a $1,000 scholarship given by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
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