On Target

Ruffing Montessori School has long been known for its wide range of extracurricular activities such as taekwondo, chess and cooking. But the school's most popular offering — one that involves nearly one-third of the school's students in grades four through eight — may come as a surprise: archery.

"Archery is very consistent with our philosophy of learning, and we've had a lot of success with it from the beginning," says Gordon Maas, Ruffing's head of school. "It's a very disciplined sport, which fits well with the Montessori concept, and the kids feel they are being held to a high standard."

It is an ideal activity for what is known as sensory integration, Maas explains, a combination of both physical and mental acuity.

Now entering its sixth year, the archery program is offered to students in grades four through eight and is incorporated into the school's physical education program. The archery season runs from January through early March, culminating in a state competition in Columbus. Maas says many students practice throughout the year with sessions before and after school in addition to brief practice sessions during regular school hours.

"Everybody can do this," Maas says. "Boys and girls usually take to it pretty easily, and there's a lot more to it than just hitting a target."

Of course, we can't help but wonder whether The Hunger Games heroine and archer Katniss Everdeen has anything to do with the large number of students involved in the program.

"The popularity of archery has burgeoned due to The Hunger Games and the Summer Olympics," Maas says. "So this could be a banner year for the program."

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