School archery programs expanding in Minnesota
Based on the growing number of bowhunters and recreational archers in Minnesota, the popularity of bow and arrow shooting is on the rise. Nowhere is this trend more evident than in Minnesota schools where in the coming year more than 60,000 stude...
Based on the growing number of bowhunters and recreational archers in Minnesota, the popularity of bow and arrow shooting is on the rise.
Nowhere is this trend more evident than in Minnesota schools where in the coming year more than 60,000 students will target shoot as part of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Archery in the Schools Program.
Moose Lake is among the 43 new school programs who were recently awarded equipment grants and enrolled in the budding three-year-old program. As part of the National Archery in Schools Program, schools purchase a standard set of equipment, and teachers attend a training session to learn how to safely and effectively teach archery to new archers. Support materials that include a curriculum based on National Physical Education Standards and a draft lesson planner make the program very easy to implement.
According to Kraig Kiger, National Archery in Schools Program coordinator for the DNR, the turnkey nature of the program has been key to its growth.
"Teachers who have never picked up a bow themselves prior to enrolling in the program come out of the training with the confidence to teach archery like a seasoned pro," Kiger said. "This confidence gets passed on to the kids, who quickly learn that archery is something that they can excel at even if they are not the best athlete in the class."
Kiger said school archery programs are attractive because archery is a lifetime sport that engages kids who otherwise might not do well in physical education class, and this gives archery a universal appeal.
"Archery in the Schools participants are as economically, culturally and geographically diverse as you can find in Minnesota," Kiger said. "We have participating schools in the inner city of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, throughout the suburbs, and in rural towns in every corner of the state."
Despite using state-of-the-art archery gear, the cost of starting a program is relatively low. Schools that applied for and received grants from the DNR are required to pay $1,500. Schools that do not receive financial aid can purchase the equipment for just under $3,000.
Some schools have paid this from their regular equipment budget, but most receive financial support from hunting, conservation and fraternal organizations in their communities. The DNR provides the Basic Archery Instructor training to schools, youth organizations, parks and recreation departments, and others at no cost.
Establishing physical-education-based archery classes are only a beginning. The DNR encourages schools to establish after school archery programs and clubs to provide an outlet for aspiring archers. Programs such as the Junior Olympic Archery Development are springing up in communities where school archery is taking hold.
One such program that started in conjunction with an Archery in the Schools Program was the Central Minnesota Junior Olympic Archery Development in Sartell. That club has put Minnesota archery on the map by sending two young shooters and a coach to the Junior World Championships last October. Adam Wruck of Rice and Corey Muellenbach of Sartell anchored the gold medal winning USA Cadet team under the careful tutelage of coach Linda Beck of Maple Lake.
A Minnesota Archery in the Schools State Tournament is scheduled for April 14. State champions will receive an automatic berth in the National Archery in the Schools Tournament to be held in Louisville, Ken., in June.
For more information about the Minnesota Archery in Schools Program, contact the Minnesota Shooting Sports Education Center at (218) 327-0583, or visit the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us .