RIPLEY - Webster's Dictionary defines the word "shooter" as one who drives or sends with force. Levi Staats has the strength and skill to do that with accuracy.

The teen is soft spoken, mannerly and intelligent. He speaks with passion about his chosen craft.

Staats was named to the National Archery in the Schools Program All-American squad after he finished ninth in the High School boys division and tenth overall at the NASP National Archery Tournament on May 10.

The top 16 United States overall shooters were selected to endure an 18-hour plane ride to Johannesburg South Africa to compete against other NASP All Nation Teams for the All-Star Championship July 21-29.

"It is a tremendous honor to participate in this event. I am very excited for the opportunity to compete," said Staats.
"I'm not really nervous just excited for the experience."

The junior-to-be sharp shooter is a member of Ripley High's varsity archery team and has been a part of two of the school's six State Championships.

The Vikings crowned two shooters at the State Tournament in 2013 in Nick Rhodes (291) and Cayla Goodson (288). Staats took a close second to his teammate (290) for a second place finish in the High School Boys Division, his second No.2 finish in as many years.

Obviously, he saved his best performance for nationals where he caught fire.
Staats interest in archery came early and he never looked back.

"When I was in fifth grade my Dad (Stacey) bought me my first bow and I was hooked after that. I played other sports when I was young but I knew that this was it for me," said Staats.

The young shooter credits Ripley High Archery coaches Tess Gump and Tom Kruk for putting him on track to reach his full potential as a shooter.

"They really care about the kids in the program and they make it fun for us. I have learned so much from them in a pretty short time. My teammates are supportive and we pull for each other. I feel like I am representing them as well."
Levi's Mother Gail believes that her son's competitive spirit is what makes him so proficient at his craft.

"He works hard at it but I think he has a gift from God and we encourage him to develop it and most of all have fun with it. He loves to compete."

Stacey and Gail plan to make the trek overseas with their son and experience his accomplishment first hand. There are fundraising efforts established to help the family with the costly endeavor of spending a week in South Africa.
The family's Church is stepping in to help. Epworth United Methodist Church will host a spaghetti dinner on June 9. A hog is to be raffled on July 4 by C98 Radio. The prize comes via donation from Jimmy and Belinda Anderson.
While archery gear will be awarded to placers at the All-Star Championship, cash prizes cannot be given due to the participants being minors.

Staats, who participated in baseball and football as a youth has generated interest from Ripley High football coaches through the years but he believes he is where he needs to be.

"I take a lot of pride in shooting and I love everything about it. I want to keep getting better. This is my sport"
If you would like to contribute to the Staats' journey to South Africa you can do so at any Premier Bank. Simply ask to make a donation for Levi Staats.