Signup open for archery tournament honoring park ranger

Sam Randle

Families can participate in the 2018 Sam Randle Memorial Archery Tournament on July 28 at Panola Mountain State Park, but they have to register now because space is limited.

The static and 3-D range competitions for beginners, intermediates and advanced levels for ages 8 and older will honor the memory of the late park ranger Sam Randle, who died suddenly in 2017 at age 34.

The deadline to sign up is July 20, at

Randle was a popular park ranger and the park’s archery instructor, who often wore a snake around her neck in the nature center to encourage people to get over their fear of them. 

Her sister, Melissa Randle, who is co-hosting the Archery Tournament, said the 2018 event marks the return of the annual competition, started by Sam in 2013. 

The tournament is hosted with Panola Mountain State Park and the Friends of Panola Mountain State Park.  

Randle said they are hosting the tournament as a way to remember Sam, and continue her legacy of introducing new people to the sport that she was so passionate about.

It will take place on what would have been Sam’s 35th birthday. 

“She is still a beloved figure to patrons of the park and in the community, having instructed some estimated 6,000-plus students in archery, in addition to her other responsibilities, including tending to the animals in the Nature Center and educating visitors about the many species that inhabited the park,” Randle said. 

During her tenure at the park, Sam Randle appeared in several TV news segments and print media demonstrating the park’s robust archery programming that she was instrumental in developing.  

To honor her memory, Panola Mountain State Park has also named a climbing tree for her.

A bench also was recently installed outside the nature center dedicated to her memory, and in May, a collection of almost 100 books was purchased in her name and unveiled at the Stonecrest Library branch where she was an active member.

Randle said that when Sam was not working she shared her passion and love of the outdoors by volunteering at AWARE, tending to many of the sick animals in their care. 

“In a short time she affected the lives of so many within the community, both near and far,” Randle said.