Archers can pick up a bow at age 5 and keep shooting the rest of their life. Few sports provide such lifelong enjoyment, which makes archery unique.
An organization that’s forever introducing children to the sport is Scholastic 3-D Archery. The organization’s leader is Jennie Richardson, who spent 10 years coordinating Kentucky’s Archery in the Schools Program. She created S3DA as a next-step program to help beginning archers become lifetime archers. Richardson also wants S3DA students to progress to national archery organizations like ASA, NFAA, USA Archery and collegiate archery.
Richardson said S3DA provides a modified platform for kids that makes it easier for them to make the transition to archery’s parent organizations. S3DA welcomes archers of all skill levels. Beginners can become high-level archers, and more experienced archers can receive advanced coaching and opportunities to compete nationally.
Why start your child in archery? Because they’ll get to participate in an all-inclusive program that makes them part of a team. “If you’re part of something like S3DA, you get peer acceptance, community involvement and camaraderie,” Richardson said.
Archery isn’t like traditional ball sports, where it helps to be athletically gifted. “Archery is 97 percent mental,” Richardson said. “You have to focus, be disciplined and be confident. It doesn’t require as much physical prowess as other sports.”
That means children who can’t run like the wind or hit a ball out of a stadium can still be competitive and have fun in archery. Of course, archery is all about fun, which is why S3DA focuses on 3-D archery.
“Based on our surveys, 100 percent of kids enjoy shooting 3-D,” Richardson said. After all, 3-D archery features a variety of animal targets in wooded settings, which makes it exciting. Kids who have fun shooting eventually want to compete.
Richardson said S3DA holds regional tournaments within states, and then state-level events where students can qualify for national tournaments.
Although 3-D is S3DA’s most popular discipline, it also teaches indoor and outdoor target archery. “We added outdoor target archery for our college coaches, who were looking for a more well-rounded archer to come to their university,” Richardson said. “We thought it would give our kids an edge going into the collegiate programs.”
S3DA archers can also shoot a variety of equipment, including compounds, Olympic recurves and traditional bows. “We want to be a platform to propel our kids to the national ranks in many disciplines,” Richardson said.
How do you get involved in S3DA? It has programs in 36 states, and they meet after school in various venues. Richardson said about 35 percent of S3DA programs are school-based, and 65 percent work with clubs run by churches, archery retailers, sportsman’s clubs, city parks and municipalities.