Shooting sports gain popularity in schools

An enthusiasm for the shooting sports continues to grow in our nation’s schools, thanks to the increasing popularity of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). The good news for parents, students, teachers and, of course, archery products manufacturers and dealers is an unexpected serendipity–a positive correlation between archery physical education classes and enthusiasm for school in general.

So, doing the Robin Hood thing–under proper supervision–is leading to better behavior and attendance at school? Maybe even better grades? Apparently so, according to a 2004 study by a Harrisonburg, Va., firm, Responsive Management.

Encouraged by the preliminary study, NASP has asked Responsive Management to conduct a more extensive yearlong study of the benefits of archery to a student’s well-being and overall school performance. The study will be conducted at a cross-section of schools in nine states. While this will include a fair number of students, it is a mere fraction of students in schools across the country currently involved with NASP.

Since its beginning in 2002, the program has grown from 22 pilot schools in Kentucky to more than 4,000 schools in 44 states, plus Canada and Australia. To date, more than 2.3 million students in grades 4-12 have received archery instruction through the program. Many schools are even integrating archery into core curriculum areas such as math, science and history. By the end of 2008, NASP plans to be operating in schools in every state.

“This is one of the most innovative and engaging programs that encourages students to be involved with the shooting sports,” said Rob Carter Jr., director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “Regardless of the student’s athletic abilities, archery can be enjoyed by all and provides additional life skills that will be retained by these students the rest of their life.”

Indiana is one of the nine states participating in the NASP-commissioned study. The other eight are Arizona. Alabama, Georgia. Kentucky, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.

The NASP is a cooperative effort between state education and natural resources (wildlife and conservation) departments. School archery lessons, focusing on international-style target archery, are taught by P.E. teachers who have been trained as Basic Archery Instructors.

“This program has and will continue to make a strong impact on these students, as well as everyone involved,” said Tim Beck of the DNR Division of Law Enforcement, who leads the Indiana program, where 211 teachers/instructors have been trained as Basic Archery Instructors.

Once the students become involved in archery, it’s likely they will encourage their parents to become archery enthusiasts.

Archers already know it’s a great family sport. I thank my dad. an avid hunter and conservationist, for all the engaging hours spent under his supervision as a child zinging arrows (he even crafted his own) in the general direction of old straw-mounted paper targets.

To learn more about the NASP and the innovative youth archery school programs–plus how you can get involved–visit www.nasparchery.com.

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