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Local kids enjoy archery lesson from Lt. Governor Owen

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Washington Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen (foreground, right) taught local members of Big Brothers Big Sisters the basics of archery during free lessons in Napavine on Saturday. Bigs and Littles from all over the area were able to be involved, with Owen stating he is able to work with kids often.

Local students with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) were treated to free archery lessons Saturday in Napavine from none other than Washington Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen.

Program members from across Lewis County were able to attend and learn some of the basics of bow-and-arrow marksmanship from Owen, a certified archery instructor and advocate for mentorship of young persons, which he accomplishes on top of his duties helping to lead the state.

The opportunity had been made available after Jill Kawulok, chief operating officer of BBBS for Southwest Washington, attended a conference last fall organized by Washington State Mentors, of which Owen is chair, and won a raffle for free lessons from Owen.

Kawulok then decided to apply her prize to local Littles and their Bigs, to use the vernacular, who met at the Rebekah's Lodge in Napavine for one of two sessions of instruction on Saturday morning.

"This is something they've never had an opportunity to do," said Kawulok of the experience, adding volunteers with the lodge had been very helpful and allowed them to use the space for free, minus a small deposit.

Littles in attendance, who included kids from areas such as Toledo, Winlock, Napavine, Centralia and Chehalis, and their Bigs were first shown some examples of basic bow designs, from old-style longbows to modern compound bows, as well as the many types of arrow heads in use today.

After some instruction in the safe use of a bow and arrow, participants were granted the chance to shoot at a variety of targets and get a feel for their own skills as an archer.

Owen said, in a group of students with such varying ages and backgrounds, he expected to see a variety of proficiency levels, between those who caught on quickly and those who needed extra time to hit their stride.

"We have the gamut," he said of the students that morning, some of whom took quickly to lining up their sights with their target, landing more than a few bull's-eyes by the end of the day.

Owen said archery is a sport many children find themselves getting excited about when they may not be experienced or proficient at other activities, stating you don't have to worry about being picked for a team when you're using a bow because the only person you're competing with is yourself. He said he has seen many children brighten up at the idea of practicing archery because they start feeling more confident in themselves the more often they make contact with the target.

"Once they realize, 'Now that I can do it,' they get excited about it," he said, adding archery, as a hobby among young people, has been growing in popularity in recent years due to the success of such films as The Hunger Games and Brave.

And poor shot or crack shot, the kids at the lodge all seemed to have a great time. They got to feel competitive. They got to see themselves learn and improve. One parent, observing how much the class enjoyed themselves, remarked, "Now we know what they want for Christmas."

This visit to Lewis County had been Owen's first, and also his first time engaging a BBBS group in such a way, as has been providing mobile archery lessons for just two years through his company Lobo USA. He said, if BBBS would like to have him back, they would just need to get in touch, and advised that kids looking for their own archery equipment can use a multitude of local shops to find what they need to get started.

To learn more about Owen's availability to provide archery lessons and events, go to www.loboarchery.com.

To volunteer with BBBS, go to www.swwabigs.org. Kawulok said room is always available for additional Bigs, as there is a waiting list for Littles hoping to be paired with a mentor.

Students took aim at a variety of targets, including paper bull's-eyes and balloons.

Owen (background, right) shows his students an example of a modern compound bow.

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