Heather Haines, 4-H Agent, UGA Extension Forsyth County

Four high school youth holding recurve bows.
The Senior Recurve Team arrives at the State Archery Match (L-R), Rathna Malapati, Maya Wood, Sri Eesah Datla, and Aarush Aritakula. Photo by: Deb Wood

Forsyth County’s 4-H program is hitting the mark with Project S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness Fun and Education), a growing initiative captivating the interest of local youth. Serving as more than just a platform for shooting sports, this program fosters a sense of belonging, teamwork, and concentration skills in a secure environment, emphasizing safety and responsible firearm and archery equipment use.

Under the mentorship of devoted volunteer coaches, nineteen young archers recently took aim at the Georgia 4-H State Archery Match, held at Rock Eagle 4-H Center on May 4, 2024. Competing within their age and experience brackets, spanning Cloverleaf, Junior, and Senior divisions, as well as Novice, Recurve, and Compound disciplines, participants were able to showcase their dedication and skill.

Among the highlights, Forsyth County’s Junior FITA Recurve Team, comprising Nicholas Findley, Kamryn Peters, Clark Christiansen, and Tallulah Bates, secured a commendable second place overall, with Findley additionally clinching seventh place individually.

Two high school youths holding a first place plaque
Sri Eesah Datla and Aarush Aritakula accept the 1st place plaque at the end of the State Archery Match. Photo by: Rani Datla

Not to be outdone, the Senior Recurve Team, consisting of Sri Eesha Datla, Aarush Aritakula, Maya Wood, and Rathna Malapati, emerged victorious, claiming the top spot in the state and attaining Master 4-H status, the pinnacle of achievement within the youth organization. This triumph earns them the prestigious opportunity to represent Georgia at the National Shooting Sports Championship in Grand Island, Nebraska, this June. Furthermore, Datla and Aritakula distinguished themselves by securing first and third place, respectively, in the Senior Recurve Individual category.

The Forsyth County Extension Office would like to thank the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and Forsyth County Parks and Recreation for providing facilities at Ducktown Park for the team to host weekly practice at no charge. Their generous support allows the 4-H program to offer the Project S.A.F.E. experience to local youth at little cost to their families.