Alderson Archers team up with the Greenbrier Valley Sportsman Alliance

By Jeffrey Kanode, for RealWV

Two young, innovative programs in the Greenbrier Valley are finding common cause.

The recently formed Greenbrier Valley Sportsman Alliance and the already award-winning archery team of Alderson Elementary School share many values and interests. Now the alliance has plans to help fund the team.

One of the founders of the Greenbrier Valley Sportsman Alliance, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) officer Bob Johnson, recently visited archery practice at Alderson Elementary. As he watched the fourth and fifth graders carefully eying their targets and expertly shooting their bows, Johnson reflected on the natural fit between his group and the budding archery team.

“I made one call to Archery in the Schools, and all the Alderson coaches came to our next meeting, and joined,” Johnson said. “It’s exciting. We want to do all we can to support archery, clay shooting, and the air rifle JROTC programs in the county.”

For Johnson, the connection is both professional and personal. He’s in charge of the hunter education program in our area, so liaison work with groups like the Alderson archery team makes for a perfect outreach. Johnson feels the work even more deeply, though, and so does the membership of the sportsman alliance. “I grew up loving the outdoors. Working for DNR, I get to spend my career in the outdoors. We want these kids to be outside. We want them to love the outdoors, too,” Johnson noted.

“I’m tired of seeing kids constantly on their phones. Let’s get them outside. Let’s get them hunting. Let’s get them fishing. When kids hunt and fish, they start interacting with their peers, or with older folks. It builds community and connection. That’s what we want. That’s what we need,” he continued.

Johnson said the number of people who hunt and fish—even in such a pristine, natural location for both, like West Virginia—has dropped over the last number of years. Johnson sees a link between his group’s involvement with school groups who promote outdoors activities, and the future of outdoors culture, so vital to the overall cultural milieu of the Mountain State. “If we can help fund these school programs, so these kids and parents don’t have to go out and beg for money, we will foster the next generation,” Johnson affirmed.

On April 20, the Greenbrier Valley Sportsman Alliance is holding their biggest fundraiser—a banquet and raffle fundraiser at The Pines (a venue in located in Crawley). Those who are interested in attending can find more information on the Greenbrier Valley Sportsman Alliance Facebook group page. The proceeds will be distributed to help fund groups like the Alderson Elementary archery team and other outdoor related student groups in the county.

According to Alderson Elementary music teacher and archery coach Andrea Edge, it cost each Alderson Elementary archer $350 to attend the national tournament they competed in last spring. The Alliance’s banquet and other fundraisers can help offset those costs, or even fully fund the team’s 2024 trip.

Alderson Archery coaches Darrell Pilson, Greg Eary, Jason Ward, Bob Johnson of WVDNR and the Greenbrier Valley Sportsman Alliance, Andrea Edge, and Matt Tabor. Coaches not pictured are Alicia Utterback, Brian Honaker, and Rebecca Hudson. Photo by RealWV.

Jason Ward, the Alderson physical education teacher and another archery coach, sees no limits to the archery program, especially with continued and increased aid from the community. “If we can get more help, we can buy some new 3D targets for the kids and offset some of the wear and tear on our current equipment. With upgrades like that, we hope to host tournaments in the future, something we aren’t able to do now,” Ward said.

Like Bob Johnson, Ward sees programs like his school’s archery team as providing a connection between school and community, growing students and caring adults. “We want to give these kids a lifelong love of the outdoors. We have a community of outdoors enthusiasts here in Alderson. What we are doing here hopefully connects the kids and adults.”

As he watched the Alderson archers practice in the school gym, outdoorsman Johnson shook his head in joyful disbelief. “I mean look at this,” he began. “We are in an elementary school, and we have fourteen kids, fourth and fifth graders, shooting during school, as an award, doing this because they want to do it. There’s a kid who missed tons of school last year. Since that student joined the archery team, they haven’t missed a day. That’s what this is all about.”


Related stories

Give us your feedback