Column: Archery training provides skills for life

Great Outdoors by James Murray

My earliest attempts at the sport of archery were, well, lets just say they were less than stellar.

In those days there was no such thing as organized archery shoots where I lived, never mind any sort of proper instruction. One day, while shooting at a paper target I’d tacked to the door of a shed in the backyard, I managed to put a number of holes in my father’s fishing waders. How was I to know they were hanging on a hook on the inside of the door? Initially my father was not too impressed with either me or my marksmanship and he took the bow away from me. After a few weeks had passed and he had calmed down a bit, my father eventually took me out to a field not far from our house and taught me not only the proper way to handle a bow and arrow, but also, and perhaps an even more important lesson: that safety and responsibility go hand-in-hand when it comes to shooting a bow and arrow – at anything.

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I mention this particular incident only because the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) 2019 Provincial Archery Competition is being held Saturday, April 20 in Kelowna. Young archers from all over the province will be testing their skills, demonstrating their marksmanship and attempting to qualify for the National Championships which will take place later in Regina, Saskatchewan. I will be helping out at the event

NASP provides international style target archery training to youths from grade four through to grade 12. The program covers archery safety, technique, concentration skills, self-improvement and the proper use of equipment.

The BC Wildlife Federation (BCWF) serves as the regional headquarters for NASP in B.C. They also provide support to NASP basic archery instructors and trainers, as well as coordinating annual tournaments.

Archery is an activity in which people from all walks of life and almost every size and ability level can participate, and according to the NASP website, it has been shown to be effective in helping young people experience success.

Prior to taking part in a NASP competition, students/participants have been given thorough instruction and training in a strictly controlled shooting environment. The set up and design of the NASP archery ranges, as well as the equipment and targets used, has been standardized throughout all participating schools and organizations. All participants use the same model of Genesis bow, the same brand and model of arrows and shoot at the same standardized target. This follows through to the competition level, making for a level playing field (target range) for all participants.

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Simply put, students learn how to shoot safely in a controlled setting from certified instructors and learn self-disciplinary skills that will see them through life. Throughout each class and at every step through the process, safety of all participants is of utmost concern at all times. Whether in the class setting or at competition levels, strict NASP safety protocols are in place. Even event volunteers such as myself are giving safety instruction so that everyone will be able to understand and implement these safety protocols. An integral part of the safety protocol is a series of whistle commands that can be clearly heard and recognized by everyone taking part in an event. Competitors are more than familiar and use to working with both verbal and whistle commands.

All in all, it is a pretty impressive program that provides a safe learning environment for young people who are wanting to learn about archery. I wish NASP had been around when I was a kid going to school. Maybe I wouldn’t have put those holes in my father’s waders.


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