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Arrows fly, hearts are saved

Like most brothers and sisters out there John and Evelyn Sandstede are competitive. Whenever they can, the two try to one-up each other.

That's why Evelyn likes the archery class she's taking at Lighthouse Community Church -- she's better than her little brother. She hits the yellow center of the target pretty often. Whereas, his arrows tend to stray.

"I even hit the sign once," John said sheepishly. The sign is about a foot right and foot high of the target.

John's not discouraged, though. He's getting better every week and someday he plans to use his new talent to go hunting.

John and Evelyn are two of the 10 students who signed up for the archery class at Lighthouse. Called Centershot Ministries, the program is geared to teach students of all ages the skill of archery while sharing the word of God at the same time. The current group is the second to go through the eight week course.

Centershot is an offshoot of the National Archery in Schools Program that is offered in schools throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.

Each Monday night class instructors turn the Lighthouse Life Center into an archery range. While it wasn't necessarily meant for that use, put up some netting and a few targets and lay down a little tape and it works.

"We set up five targets right in the building. It works great," said pastor Kevin Vogt.

Vogt runs the class with the help of Steve Narva and Tom Reller. All three are National Archery in Schools certified instructors. Each session starts with some shooting. The group warms up with some target practice and then plays a few games such as 21. Rules for 21 are the same as the card game, but participants have to hit the right numbers on the target to reach that number.

After about an hour of shooting the group enjoys some snacks and then learns about Jesus. The mix, of archery and gospel, has proved popular.

"It's a great opportunity for us to connect with kids," Vogt said.

The nice thing about archery, he said, is that it levels the playing field. Anyone, any age or ability level can do it. Those participating during this session range in age from elementary age kids to middle age adults.

"Size and strength don't matter," added Vogt.

While most who attend the course have never shot a bow and arrow before, they quickly warm up to it. With the help of Vogt, Narva and Reller students quickly learn the basics. And with a little practice most are hitting bullseyes at least some of the time.

The church provides all the equipment, including bows and arrows. Vogt said they purchased the equipment from Brennan Industries. The lightweight bows have varied draw weights and lengths to fit the needs of just about everyone.

While the bows aren't going to take down a deer they are still a dangerous weapon so rules are strictly enforced. Vogt said the kids have been respectful and they haven't had any troubles.

Lighthouse launched the program during the 2008 Leprechaun Days. It started its first eight-week course in September. The first session drew about 20 kids, Vogt said.

Currently in its second session Vogt said they have about 10 students. The session will end Dec. 22. Vogt said they will start another session Feb.2.

The class is open to anyone grades fourth grade and up. People of all ages are encouraged to sign up.

Along with promoting Centerpoint at Lighthouse, Vogt is helping other congregations establish programs. This Saturday he will provide training for several churches so they can start their own classes.

If interest is there, Vogt said he would like to start a competitive league amongst participating churches someday.

For more information on the Lighthouse archery program call Kevin Vogt at 651-423-2566 ext. 124.