This summer, a City of Aiken camp is teaching students how to play a sport that is over 10,000 years old.
"There was a dragon faire and we went to it, and there were bows and arrows and we shot them," said Kylie Elizabeth Cullum, one of the students in the city's summer archery camp. "Mamaw (Grandma) thought maybe we could go to an archery class, so she signed us up, and I thought, okay, I'm really excited."
Kylie Elizabeth and her sister, Emily Cullum, became interested in archery after attending a medieval event at EastWind Castle in Trenton. Other students in the archery camp said they became interested in the sport due to its representation in popular culture in movies like The Hunger Games or The Avengers, or because it was something unique.
"I just found that it was something different," said Christy Pemberton, who had been attending the archery camp for a few years.
The camp is taught by Roger Pizio and his daughter, Amy Pizio-Moore. Natives of Rhode Island, the Pizios brought their love of archery with them when they moved to Aiken several years ago.
"The city's been very good," said Pizio. "They buy us extra equipment as we need it."
Pizio has been coaching archery for over 40 years. In addition to the three archery camps that run during the summer, he also coaches archery at Mead Hall. His daughter said he began teaching her when she was just an "ankle-biter."
"In my former life I was a teacher," Pizio-Moore said. "I taught for about ten years. The cool thing about archery is that any kid can do it, and any kid can be successful ... A lot of autistic kids are very good at archery. We've had a lot of success with kids that don't have a lot of success elsewhere."
Pizio-Moore said some of these successful athletes can have severe disabilities, such as paralysis or missing limbs.
Pizio teaches children of all ages and skill levels in the summer camps, which run weeknights at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center from June 10 to July 26.
He said South Carolina is "very good" for archery due to the support from hunting and other sports groups, even though the sport is more popular in Northern states.
Pizio said archery does more than just help kids calm down or teach them success – it provides scholarship money, too.
This year, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has already given away $54,000 in scholarships to high school seniors in the S.C. National Archery Schools program (NASP).
To learn more about the city's summer archery camp, visit discoveraikencounty.com.
To learn more about NASP, visit naspschools.org.