Archery in Schools

Summary

The National Archery in the Schools Program® (NASP®) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that aims to improve academic performance, various outdoor skills, and shooting sports participation by providing opportunities for students in grades 4-12 to participate in archery at their local school. To date, over 7.2 million youth have participated in the program which is safe, helps build student self-esteem, and introduces students to the shooting sports.

Introduction

More than 1.3 million students in 8,891 schools participate in the National Archery in Schools Program® (NASP®) annually. NASP® is a non-profit 501(c)(3) for students in grades 4-12. School archery programs are safe, build student self-esteem, and introduce kids and families to shooting sports through target archery. These programs are popular with teachers because success in archery can be achieved by students of all genders, abilities, and backgrounds, and, according to teachers, participation in NASP® improves student grades, behavior, and school attendance. An estimated 18 million kids have participated in archery through school programs, and eighty-four percent of instructors agree archery has improved the self-confidence of those participants enhancing their quality of education. With over 8,000 schools participating in NASP®, it has become a successful program and every year there are more opportunities for the program to expand to new schools.

History

NASP® started when Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) Commissioner Tom Bennett wanted archery to become a “high school sport choice.” The KDFWR hosted a “Step Outside” event to introduce the Kentucky Department of Education to the sport of archery. The Department of Education agreed to help if the program was started as a physical education class in middle school. The program began in 21 Kentucky Middle Schools and has grown to nearly 10,000 schools nationwide. In May of 2017, the 15th annual NASP® National Tournament was conducted indoors in Louisville, Kentucky. A total of 14,492 student archers participated in the single-day event—the largest student archery tournament in North American history.

Points of Interest

  • Funding support should be protected within NASP® program budgets for coordinators, instructor training, and equipment purchases.
  • Fish and wildlife agency utilization of Pittman-Robertson funds for NASP® and community archery programs should be encouraged.
  • State and local funding opportunities should be explored for both indoor and outdoor shooting facilities as a part of city and county parks.
  • Archery parks and ranges need to be located within a reasonable distance of schools with programs, and these facilities need to be child and family friendly.
  • Existing recreational facilities could be expanded or adapted in many cases to include archery.
  • NASP® is available to homeschool children. Those who are enrolled in a homeschool educational environment can enroll in NASP® and benefit from the program just as much as those in public or private schools.
  • In 2022, NASP® moved back to pre-pandemic tournament participation, with 12,213 archers in the 2022 Eastern National Tournament.

Moving Forward

Archery program start-ups have been successful, but continued funding, support, and the creation of community archery programs in each state are necessary to continue this success. Currently, the after school and out-of-school needs of participants are not being addressed. Many communities lack archery in local recreation programs, and shooting locations are few and far between. Recruitment into archery and other shooting sports will not continue without providing additional locations and opportunities for participants to practice. The Archery Trade Association has entered into memorandums of understanding with many state natural resource agencies to effectively utilize funds to further develop archery in the schools and community archery programs. Only through repeated exposure to archery will youth have a chance to make archery part of their recreational lives.

In the spirit of advancing our nation’s hunting heritage and improving hunter recruitment and retention, legislators should explore and support legislative options that make archery programs more readily available in our children’s schools.

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