Archery is a unique activity to participate in at a young age because it involves learning a skill that can be enjoyed and mastered throughout a lifetime. You technically never “age out” of being able to shoot a bow. That’s just one of the reasons why the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) is a great program for kids across Pennsylvania to invest their time and interest.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Game Commission hosted the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Championship event at the Horace Ashenfelter Indoor Track Facility, located on the campus of Penn State University, in State College. This is the largest student archery tournament in Pennsylvania.
NASP is a globally-recognized program designed to teach international-style target archery in physical education classes in grades 4-12. The educational content covers the history of archery, proper safety and equipment techniques, mental concentration, core strengthening, physical fitness and all-around self-improvement.
At states, nearly 1,000 student archers from 49 school districts shot more than 9,000 arrows an hour, using 95 lanes. It’s hard to imagine, but throughout the day, we estimate that nearly 50,000 arrows were fired down range.
Competing at the state level is a true accomplishment for students. The individuals and teams that participated in the state tournament all had to shoot a qualifying score at one of the many qualifying matches held around the state in recent months.
The students were divided up into five flights to compete throughout the day. Scoring, which is the scene taking place in the photo above, is done by two archers, each scoring the others arrows at the end of each round.
Between team and individuals awards, more than 50 trophies were awarded at states this year. Click here to see all 2019 NASP State Championship Award Winners. Scholarship checks totaling $10,000 were earned by student archers to use toward post-secondary education.
These scholarships can be used at any post-secondary education institution of the archers choosing including: college, university, tech school, specialty schools and even military training.
All students who compete in NASP events use the same state-of-the-art and universal-fit equipment, including bows, arrows and targets. The only bow approved for NASP is the Original Genesis Bow, pictured above. The arrows are NASP Easton Full-Length Aluminum Arrows Version 2. The maximum draw weight for the bow is 20 pounds, but it can be reduced, based on the archer’s ability and/or preference.
NASP arrow curtains by BCY served as the backdrop of the shooting range. They are specialized to stop arrows that miss the targets. Schools that sign up for NASP can get one of these, and the other necessary equipment, for student use through the program. The NASP Target by Morrell, also pictured above, was used at our state championship event.
While we’re on the subject of equipment, thanks to support from the archery industry, the $6,000 NASP equipment kits can be purchased by schools for approximately $3,100. The Pennsylvania Game Commission also offers $1,500 grants to schools to offset the cost of the kits. Additional funds are also available to minimize the costs for schools.
A major focus of NASP, of course, is student safety. Archery’s safety record is actually better than that of every ball sport taught in school, with the exception of table tennis.
Virtually every student can participate in this physical activity. It can evolve into an activity that puts athletes and non-athletes alike on a level playing field, and oftentimes can lead to siblings and parents joining in on the fun.
Archery translates into compelling subject matter for math, science and history. Students enjoy NASP so much, that on days its offered, it has the power to positively influence school attendance.
Many students have said it’s a fun way to spend time with kids from their own school, while making new friends and meeting new people from other schools.
NASP is a joint venture that partners with state education and wildlife management agencies to promote student education and participating in the lifelong sport of archery. NASP helps school districts in Pennsylvania meet physical education curriculum requirements set by the state Department of Education, and at the same time introduces students to the world of competitive archery.
The program came to Pennsylvania in 2005, after being started in Kentucky in 2002. The Pennsylvania Game Commission began coordinating the program in 2010. We now have 270 schools participating in NASP in the Keystone State.
Teachers and other adult individuals who are interested (parent volunteers, paraprofessionals, etc.) can undergo an 8-hour NASP Basic Archery Instructor (BAI) training program prior to presenting the archery curriculum in class.
Millions of students from thousands of schools have participated in NASP globally. Tournaments are held at the state level in State College, the national level in Louisville, Kentucky and World level at Disney.
To learn more about NASP in Pennsylvania, contact Pennsylvania Game Commission Shooting Sports Outreach Coordinator Todd Holmes at 717-787-4250 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.naspschools.org to learn more about NASP.
Photos by Derek Stoner.