Juda Archery Program Teaches Students Valuable Life Lessons
December 1, 2020
Archery is gaining popularity as a sport in schools across America through the National Archery in Schools Program. Kids of all ages are not only learning the lifetime sport of target archery, they’re also gaining valuable life skills and increasing their self-esteem.
“The NASP program is well known for changing kids’ lives by connecting them with a sport that offers immediate results and gratification, and that can be done by anyone no matter of race, gender, physical ability or any handicap issue,” said Daniel Schroeder, archery education program administrator and marketing specialist with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Students in Juda, Wisconsin have been enjoying the benefits of the program since 2014 when Kurtis Mansfield, physical education and health teacher for seventh through twelfth grades, began teaching it.
“I always wanted to include archery in our curriculum and the more I researched this program, the more I thought it was a great fit for Juda,” Mansfield said.
He looked for help with the equipment funding, and worked closely with Schroeder to get trained, start the program and find grant assistance. It’s been a great fit so far, he said.
“Our goal is to make every kid successful,” he said. “Students of all ages love this unit.”
The program began in Kentucky in 2004, came to Wisconsin in 2005 and is now in 800 schools across America. Students participating use a universal fit bow called the Genesis bow, which is made in Sparta, Wisconsin by Mathews Archery. Equipment, including the bow, arrow and target, is universal worldwide for the program.
“NASP was started by a math teacher and a retired state agency administrator in Kentucky as a means to introduce the sport of target archery to school-aged students with the hope they’d continue shooting and eventually purchase hunting and fishing licenses,” Schroeder said.
In 2004, just a few schools were involved but now all 50 states have the program in their schools, he said. It is also in 15 other countries and providences.
The program is introductory level and is taught by NASP certified instructors. Teachers who administer the program go through an eight-hour training program hosted by Schroeder where they are taught how to set up a safe range, how to determine an archer’s dominant eye, how to hold and shoot a bow and then how to run a safe and fun range for their students. Their certification is good for life as long as they continue to teach the program and report back to NASP on how many archers they work with each year and the ages of the archers.
“Since its inception here in Wisconsin, school teachers or administrators have been reaching out inquiring about the NASP program,” he said. “I work with them to find grant monies to help offset the $3,200.00 start-up costs for the equipment.”
Depending on the school, students who participate in the NASP curriculum have the option to do it during school hours or as an extracurricular activity. There are now 3-D targets available for use, something that helps keep students interested in the program, Mansfield said.
“When some of our students started losing interest, I reached out to Dan Schroeder and he offered us six 3-D targets,” Mansfield said. “These really added a different dimension to our programming. The kids were excited to move from traditional targets to these new ones.”
He is hopeful interest in the program will remain high for many years into the future. The program can help build self-esteem and motivation in students, he said.
“Confidence for these students comes in a matter of days,” he said. “Those moments are what I look forward to as a teacher. I like to see their enjoyment when they know they are successful and can show their peers that they can do something they might have never done before.”
Schroeder believes in the positive power of the program as well. With focus, students can easily learn the 11 basic steps on how to shoot a bow and benefit from learning life skills that accompany that knowledge.
“There are many documented situation where the NASP program has improved a student’s self-esteem, self-confidence and awareness, and their connection to the school,” he said. “NASP has shown to increase student attendance and lead to increased archery equipment sales and hunting licenses.”