Back to school is an exciting time for students. It marks beginnings like a new class, friends, courses and sports. Sports provide numerous mental and physical benefits like focus, discipline and camaraderie. Student-athletes experience better mental health, less drug use, more productivity in school, and a higher likelihood of attending college. This school year, take your shot at archery.
A Stellar Safety Record
Archery is one of the safest school sports. The Archery Trade Association says archery’s 2017 injury rate was 0.057 injuries per 1,000 participants. The only sports with slightly safer records are bowling, badminton and table tennis.
New archers might expect some soreness because shooting a bow utilizes a unique muscle group. Some beginning archers hit their forearm with the bowstring, which can cause some bruising. The other most common injuries involve the rotator cuff or a labral tear in the shoulder. But these can be avoided through good form and proper draw weight.
Anyone Can Compete
Anyone can participate in archery. Students of all ages, skill levels and physical abilities can excel. Adaptive archeryhelps athletes with physical or cognitive impairments compete, sometimes through the use of modified equipment. These athletes can compete alongside athletes without disabilities. Plus, unlike some team sports, archery is truly a lifelong pastime.
Collegiate archery programs are growing in popularity. There are recreational teams and competitive squads. A passion for archery not only can continue in college but you might even earn some money. School archery programs put students in an excellent position to receive college scholarships.
National Archery in the Schools Program
Over the past 20 years, NASP has put a bow in the hands of 18 million students. NASP is an in-school program aimed at improving educational performance among students through archery. Youths in grade four through senior year can participate. The program is typically available during the day as part of the physical education curriculum. Many students go on to compete in after-school archery programs.
NASP is offered in schools across the country. Find your local NASP program coordinator here. If it’s not available in your area, it’s easy to start. First, you need the school administration to agree to offer the program in school during the day. Next, you will need to have an educator go through the NASP Basic Archery Instructor training, which is offered regularly throughout the year at many locations. Finally, NASP will help you buy the right equipment to start the program.
Olympic Archery in Schools
OAS was created by the Easton Sports Development Foundation. It’s a unique archery league for middle and high school students. Students join the school’s archery team and compete against other OAS teams in the area. Students compete as individuals and as teams. It builds focus, self-discipline, self-esteem and more. For a list of OAS schools click here.
Junior Olympic Archery Development
JOAD is a USA Archery program. It helps students enjoy archery recreationally or grow competitively. JOAD is open to athletes ages 8 to 20. JOAD classes are meant to follow the archer as they build their skills. Classes teach the fundamentals of shooting form, followed by more advanced techniques as athletes build their abilities. As they progress, they can earn achievement awards.
JOAD programs are typically found at archery shops and clubs, so they are a great after-school option. The USA Archery Club Handbook is a helpful resource for program administrators. Clubs can also request funding for the program from the Ann Hoyt/Jim Easton JOAD Grant. The grant helps clubs buy items like stands, target butts, archery equipment and coach certifications. Apply for grants here.
Scholastic 3D Archery
S3DA was created to provide archery and bowhunting opportunities for young people in an after-school setting. The program fosters, educates and guides them in the areas of 3D, indoor target and outdoor target archery. Students can compete with recurve or compound equipment. In addition to facilitating opportunities for competition at local and larger events, S3DA focuses on education. The program provides a basic understanding of and respect for natural resources, with an emphasis on modern wildlife conservation and regulated bowhunting. S3DA has boomed in popularity in recent years. Look for a team in your area.
Varsity Archery is a relatively new after-school program that aims to introduce students to more advanced modern archery equipment. The goal is to familiarize students with equipment that they will use in more advanced competition and bowhunting scenarios. It uses Archers USA’s Individual Shooting Code System to teach participants how to use sights, stabilizers, release aids and other modern archery equipment. The program teaches students how to properly select and use the equipment, which is helpful as athletes go on to compete in S3DA, JOAD and more. Proponents also praise the program for helping bridge school archery programs to bowhunting and bowfishing.
Archery teaches lessons outside the classroom that are extremely helpful in the classroom. Athletes learn concentration, teamwork and hand-eye coordination. When students are on a team, they are often required to keep good grades to participate, which incentivizes students to do well in school. If you’re up for trying an exciting new sport, filled with friends and an opportunity to discover a lifelong passion, be sure to try your hand at archery this school year.