By Jade Wright, Conservation Agent
Archery has been around for centuries, archery in school has been around for decades; however, National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) originated in 2001 through a cooperative effort of Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife, Department of Education, and Matthews Archery. The pilot program consisted of 21 Kentucky middle schools and has since exploded to include over 9,000 schools in 47 states with over 2.3 million students participating each year from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia surpassing little-league baseball in participation. Competitive teams and individuals can take part in local, state, national, and world tournaments. Locally Rock Port, Nodaway-Holt, North Andrew and the Northwest Missouri Homeschool Group participate.
The NASP shooting format has a track record that is proven to be safe; centered on a structured discipline of whistle commands and range protocol to ensure a safe indoor shooting environment. Whistle commands communicate to archers when to get bow, shoot, go get arrows, and stop for an emergency – stop shooting immediately. The range set-up includes a waiting line, shooting line (10 and 15 meters), scoring line, and target line with a safety net behind the targets. It is almost unheard of for a person to be injured or to hurt another person while shooting a bow and arrow. National safety data ranks archery more accident-free than every ball sport except table tennis!
With many sports the winner is often determined based on the athlete’s size, strength, and speed. NASP doesn’t discriminate based on a student’s popularity, gender, size, or academic ability. NASP encourages and improves an athlete’s focus, self-control, discipline, patience, and attention to detail. Often, kids excel in NASP that wouldn’t in other school activities thereby engaging them in school and improving their confidence, motivation, attention, behavior, attendance, and focus.
Most schools start by implementing the NASP curriculum into a Physical Education course – 4th through 12th grades. Equipment including targets, bows, bow stands, backstop net, floor quivers, and arrows can be purchased by schools directly from NASP at a reduced cost. Additionally, in Missouri, the Conservation Heritage Foundation and Missouri Department of Conservation have made a $1,500 grant available to all schools to cover initial equipment purchases. Schools can usually get into the NASP program for about $1,500 out of their pocket.
To get started or for more information, contact me at (660) 853-0699 or visit www.naspschools.org.