Archery takes the cake these days as students’ most anticipated class, making recess and lunch the favorite classes of school days past. Thousands of students each year shoot archery as part of their daily school curriculum, thanks to the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). It’s like PE, but better.
Mathews Archery and the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources launched the Kentucky Archery in the Schools Program in 2002.
Wildlife conservation agencies wanted to immerse kids in the outdoors. National resource professionals wanted to introduce students to shooting sports. Educators wanted to boost student focus, motivation, attention, behavior and attendance.
It was a no-brainer. Archery accomplishes all those things and more, so the Archery in the Schools Program soon spread beyond Kentucky. As it took root nationwide, the program was renamed the National Archery in the Schools Program.
Today, all 50 states, 17 countries and nearly 14,000 schools offer a first-step introduction to archery through NASP.
NASP joins mainstream classes like math, history, literature and English as part of the standard school day. The program teaches target archery during fourth- through 12th-grade physical-education classes.
Certified teachers emphasize the “process” of shooting rather than scores, technology and equipment. All students use identical aluminum arrows and Genesis compound bows. The Genesis has adjustable draw lengths and weights, so it’s an ideal “grow with you” bow.
After completing the NASP introduction, students wishing to further develop their archery skills can try after-school lessons and league opportunities. They can also compete in local, regional and national NASP tournaments.
The 2014 NASP National Championship granted $77,000 in scholarships to nearly 11,000 student-archers, while simultaneously setting a record for the world’s largest archery tournament. All together, the program awarded $246,000 in cash scholarships to tournament winners worldwide. NASP anticipates presenting over $500,000 in scholarships next year.
NASP is a stepping stone to larger archery dreams. Students often go on to become bowhunters and competitive target archers. World Championship medalist Emily Bee (pictured below) started in NASP and now competes internationally and on the United States Archery Team for junior compound women.