The program which was developed by the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), offers international-style target archery training through a national standardized education package. NASP and the Archery Trade Association have partnered with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (DFW) and the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation, Inc. to promote student education and lifelong interest and participation in the sport of archery.
The goal of this program is to provide school children with the ingredients to become involved in a life skill that has no barriers. Unlike many school activities, students of all sizes can easily be involved in archery. Archery allows students to be taught a safe lifetime skill they can practice almost anywhere. The core content covers archery history, safety, technique, equipment, mental concentration, core strengthening physical fitness and self improvement. Students are encouraged to continue practicing after school and to compete in State and National tournaments.
Since its inception in 2002, more than 4 million students in 4,900 schools located in 46 different states have participated. In 2010, Massachusetts became the 47th state and the DFW began a 10 school pilot program across the state. Wahconah Regional and Lee High schools were the pilot schools in our area. The program has proven to be a great success and now there are 12 schools statewide participating.
Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) president Mark Jester has a goal of seeing every school in the Berkshires have such a program, and the individual clubs which make up the League are with him. They have pledged over $3,000 to be used as leverage in obtaining donations. Leverage funding has also been provided by some school districts and the NASP. The funds will pay for three NASP archery equipment kits with teacher training packets which cost approximately $2,900 each.
If funding can be secured, three more local school districts in the Berkshire area are targeted (pardon the pun) to come on board in the near future. They are Undermountain Elementary School in Sheffield, Farmington River Regional School District in Otis and Pittsfield High School. The DFW will offer free training to certify physical education teachers at each of the three school districts.
Incidentally, the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation, Inc is a 501©(3)organization which provides funding to directly conserve and to restore wildlife habitat and to reach out to children and citizens of all ages with ongoing programs that will engage and bring them into the natural world. According to its Clerk, Wayne MacCallum, the archery program “is particularly key to its overall mission and is highly complementary to NASP’s. We believe that citizens must feel at home in and engaged with the outdoors if they are to value and want to protect the natural world in the future”.
With year end rapidly approaching, you might want to consider making a tax deductable donation to the Outdoor Heritage Foundation. You can designate where you want your donation spent and this archery in the school program seems like a good place. To find out more about it, visit http://massoutdoorheritage.org. *****