Student Features

PA Cyber school helps young archer to be on target

Sep 10, 2014

Eli Welty didn’t need the movie “The Hunger Games” to get him interested in archery.

He nocked his first arrow in the sport three years ago, and is (ahem) “on target” to move up in elite ranks of his age group.

This past April, the PA Cyber seventh grader captured the Pennsylvania state championship in men’s cub class, indoor compound bow, at the Junior Olympic Archery Development program tournament in Harrisburg, Pa.

At a JOAD national tournament in March in (just to be confusing) Harrissonburg, Va., Eli placed fifth in indoor, and he was eighth in his class at a JOAD national outdoor tourney in Hamilton, Ohio.

JOAD, for youths 9-21, is a program of USA Archery, the organization recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee. USA Archery trains and selects men and women to represent the U.S. on teams in the Olympic Games and other international competition.

The Welty family resides in West Elizabeth, a town southeast of Pittsburgh. Giving Eli more time to practice archery was not the reason they chose PA Cyber, but it has been a great side benefit.

“He’s in training all the time. He needs to practice every day,” said his mother Cathy. “In a brick-and-mortar school there would never be enough time. This is our seventh year in PA Cyber and we are just loving it.”

Cathy and Robert Welty enrolled Eli and his sister in PA Cyber when the private Christian school they had been attending went through a restructuring process, prompting them to look at alternatives.

The couple did not want traditional public schooling for their children, wishing to keep their Christian faith and Biblical teaching are at the center of their daily life.

Eli’s sister Emaly, a PA Cyber junior this year, is a straight-A student on a college prep track. Eli does well in math and social studies, taking those as blended classes. Science and English are harder for him, his mom said. He benefits from the daily interaction with teachers and classmates in virtual classes for those subjects.

Noting recent changes this year in PA Cyber’s learning management software, instructional systems and administrative structure, Cathy acknowledges there will be a learning curve and an adjustment period for students and families, but she appreciates that the school is striving to make improvements. 

“We are just enjoying the ride,” she said.

Eli practices archery at the Clairton Sportsmen's Club, which sponsors a Junior Olympic Archery Development Chapter. Located in the south hills of Pittsburgh, the club has over 1500 members and some of the best facilities in the state. It boasts indoor and outdoor archery ranges, rifle and pistol ranges, skeet and trap shooting, and a slate of safety and training classes.

Mentoring younger archers at Clairton, Eli advises them on both the technical and mental aspects of the sport. "Don't worry about the other archers, let them worry about you," he says.

At some point in his development Eli may begin training on a recurve bow, the only type currently permitted in Olympic competition. Compound bows, the type most often used by hunters, use a leveraging system, which requires less strength and provides more precision. Recurve bow archers shoot at targets 55 yards away, while compound archers shoot for – and rarely miss in elite competition – the smaller bull’s-eye of a target from about 75 yards.

Compound archery is an event in the World Cups and the World Championships, and recently was added at the World Games.

“By the time Eli is ready for the Olympics, he’s hopeful that compounds will be an option,” Cathy said.

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About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.