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Marion children's minister keeps his faith on target


MARION—Marion minister Shawn Holeman might have been a professional archer, but God was tugging him in another direction.

Although he's answered the Lord's calling, Holeman hasn't stopped enjoying the daily refinement of an art and sport that dates back to before Christ.

The 38-year-old minister of children and youth at Marion Baptist Church still finds plenty of time to hone his bow shooting skills outside the church. An indoor range in his basement is set up for cold weather, and there's an outdoor gallery where he can sling arrows 90 yards or farther. And, what's most amazing, is that he piles them into a target in groups smaller than a hymnal.

Holeman is also the Marion Baptist Church Family Life Center director, which along with his archery talents has opened a great number of opportunities for further ministry. He might not be shooting on a pro circuit, but Holeman is doing work for which he's certain God intended.

He's a community advisor for the Sportsman's Club at Crittenden County High School and a certified instructor for National Archery in the Schools Program. At the church, he oversees the Centershot Ministries Program.

In the early 2000s, he was shooting in national archery competitions and stacking up trophies. Now, he keeps score by the number of lives he touches, and also the number of deer he harvests.

His basement is full of wall-hangers—including a Boone-and-Crockett-worthy buck he took last year with a bow. His tongue is complete with story after story of how his passion for archery and Jesus has allowed him to reach into the souls of others.

Holeman builds his own targets—wooden frames covered with canvas and stuffed with old tattered clothing.

"I have less than $15 or $20 in a target," he said.

Perhaps those savings were part of the reason he decided to get a new bow recently.

"I was impressed with the new technology that Hoyt is putting into their bows so I bought a new one this year."

Pulling 80 pounds on a 29-inch draw, Holeman fires with a preacher's precision, all based on years of shooting. He hardly misses a day with his bow in the backyard. It is therapy and more.

"I do it for conditioning. Archery, you're doing nothing but training for muscle memory," he explains. "When you have a big buck out there in front of you, you want to be on auto pilot."

His arrows seem to have some type of mystical GPS targeting system on board because despite being far enough away to make the bull's eye look like a peanut, he's pinging the centers.

"Most people don't start off shooting 70 yards like this," he says, pulling back the string and gazing down the arrow shaft toward an adjustable sight. 

"I like to practice at 90 yards. When you shoot 60, 70, 80 and 90 yards then move up to 20 or 30, it's like shooting basketballs into a 50-gallon drum, if you know what I mean," he says with a chuckle and starts down range to pull the arrows he's just fired.

When it comes to deer hunting, he never shoots that far, though. He waits for close shots with a high probability of successfulness. Archery deer season opened recently in Kentucky, but few take advantage of the late-summer opportunities. Holeman says he likes the early opening.

"In 2012, I killed a deer on opening day. It was Sept. 2 and it was the best meat I've ever had."

".. Now, you have to deal with them fairly quickly if you shoot one when it's hot. You certainly don't let it hang, and you might have to shoo the green flies off of it," he finished with a smile. (WR)

Editor's Note: Reprinted with permission from The Crittenden Press.

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