Home-school students from as far as West Cobb and Paulding counties were among the first to launch arrows as part of the new archery program at the Rome-Floyd County ECO Center Tuesday.

Twenty children, ranging in age from 8-12, listened as ECO Center Director Ben Winkelman talked them through a shooting safety session before hitting the archery range that is the result of a grant from the National Rifle Association Foundation.

During the safety session, Bryan Shealy representing the NRA Foundation, presented Winkelman with a ceremonial check for $6,638 which helped buy the Genesis compound bows, arrows and targets. Shealy said archery is a great way to introduce youngsters to shooting sports.

Many of the original arrows used by Native Americans were made of cedar and used turkey feathers for the fletchings, the fin-shaped stabilizers at the back end of each arrow, Winkelman said.

"I love it," said Kai'lee Murray, 9, of Rome after letting several arrows fly.. "I've always wanted to shoot a natural arrow."

Murray said before Tuesday's lesson all she had ever done was shoot Nerf arrows.

Dylan Scott, 12, recalled shooting a bow and arrow one time before, during a program at the Etowah Indian Mounds in Cartersville.

"I enjoyed this," Scott said.

He answered, "yes sir" when asked if he thought that archery was a sport he might like as he continues to grow up.

Anniston Wade, 9, of Rome, fired one arrow after another into the bullseye target and said she would love to shoot again "if I have a chance."

Winkelman hopes to grow the archery program and has indicated he'll make another grant application to get additional equipment, including three-dimensional targets for use in the future.

Archery will be one of the primary components of the Ducks Unlimited Greenwings event at the ECO Center Saturday.

There is a $15 fee for the program which includes a free pizza lunch, BB gun shooting and other outdoor recreational opportunities along with a year's subscription to the Greenwings magazine, a tee-shirt and a duck call.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. and continue through noon. Contact David Culp at 706 346 - 0571 for additional information.