Now that my high school days are just historical evidence of my existence nearly three decades ago, it’s little wonder I don’t remember much about the experience. Sure, I’ll have momentary recollections if I hear songs such as “Back in Black” by AC/DC, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash. But overall, the hard drive has been reformatted too many times and some files are unrecoverable.
One image I have retained was a beautiful spring day when the physical education teacher took us outside to teach us how to shoot a bow and arrow. I had already learned the basics at summer camp so I put my time to good use by pretending to shoot the dairy cows in the pasture next to the school. By the way they placidly went on with their chewing, they were none too alarmed at being 100 plus yards away from the threat I posed.
Why I remember that particular day, I have no earthly idea, other than archery is really fun. And thanks to the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), kids are still discovering that great sense of achievement you get when mastering a new skill.
Started in Kentucky in 2002, NASP is designed to teach international style target archery in physical education classes for kids in 4th to 12th grades. The two-week curriculum allows students to learn archery history, safety, technique, equipment, mental concentration, core strengthening physical fitness and self-improvement.
The teachers get a lesson in archery as well, undergoing an 8-hour National Archery in the Schools Program Basic Archery Instructor Training Program before they introduce the program.
The fun part is when the young archers get to shoot at targets placed before an arrow curtain in their gymnasium. They use state-of-the-art equipment that’s designed to fit every student, thanks in large part to support from the archery industry.
Today the program is in 46 states as well as four Canadian provinces, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. And what teachers are finding is their students are more engaged in school. Classroom performance improves and dropout rates decline. It’s reported that in the U.S., school dropout rates are about 10 percent with most students (88 percent) who quit indicating they weren’t involved in extracurricular activities. NASP after-school archery clubs give kids a reason to stay in school and excel at their studies.
Plus, it’s a safe activity where girls, boys, athletes, non athletes and young people with disabilities can all compete on a level playing field. It’s an activity that kids can carry into adulthood, too. Many adults hope some of these young archers become bowhunters and the next generation of conservation stewards.
It’s a program that really does work. NASP President Roy Grimes, who has worked tirelessly launching and growing the program, received a letter this month from Susan Hedden of Kentucky that made his day.
Susan saw her daughter Carly,
Young archer Carly Hedden tastes the sweetness of success!
who had been hampered by asthma, flourish because of the NASP program. That sense of belonging is important to young people, and she reported that being part of a team was having a wonderful impact in her daughter’s life and other students in her community. Here’s what else Susan told Roy in her letter.
My daughter was one of the middle school students at the exhibition last week at Westridge Elementary. I want thank you for putting so much into this program. It is because of this program my daughter is maturing and doing things that she would not have otherwise done. She is making choices more wisely in every aspect of her life.
I know that Coach Kelly Carr has a lot to do with her achievements but if you did not have a vision we would not have had this opportunity.
The exhibition at Westridge was wonderful. I was so impressed how everyone made the students into the stars.
The entire NASP program has impressed me so much that I now would like the opportunity to be a part of it. Kelly Carr told me that you are preparing a training class on April 29th and I would love to participate in it if at all possible. Also, there is another parent that is interested in being certified as well. We are looking to work with the Archery teams in the Franklin County School System.
If you do have room for the two of us in your class please let me know and any information we may need.
Again, I appreciate all of your dedication to this program.
Susan L. Hedden
It sounds like Susan caught the fever herself and plans to become an instructor!
Being involved in NASP is good for students and instructors because it takes us from just hoping for change to really doing something about it.
If you’d like to see the NASP program in action, click on the link below and then select the April 2007 show to see how South Carolina teachers and the Department of Natural Resources are working together to change young lives.