BRIGHTON — Middle school boys at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School experienced the ancient sport of archery in early February through a virtual tournament held at the Brighton gymnasium.
They joined thousands of students from schools throughout the world who compete in archery tournaments conducted by National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Because of cultural reasons, girls were not allowed to compete.
“It went great,” said PECS middle school teacher Chris Goodwin. “[It allows us] to introduce them to a skill. We’re able to expose new things to them in this program.”
NASP conducts annual archery tournaments in each state. For competitors unable to attend live tournaments, the virtual tournaments allow them to mail in scores to NASP locations. Trophies are awarded to the top three boys and girls in each division (elementary school, middle school and high school). There are also national and world NASP tournaments.
NASP originated in 2002 in Kentucky middle schools to “improve classroom performance and reduce dropout rates,” according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website. The program teaches students archery skills and aids their development of self-reliance.
A cooperative effort between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Education brought NASP to schools in the Sunshine State. In 2008, Florida became the 24th state to incorporate NASP into its physical education classes. There are currently more than 400 schools in Florida that participate.
“[We want] to bring archery to the largest number of students,” said Florida State NASP coordinator Steven Robbins.
Archery’s origins can be traced back thousands of years as one of the methods used for hunting and self-defense. Europeans used the bow as far back as 8000 to 9000 B.C., according to the Krackow Company’s website, which is dedicated to promoting archery. Archery eventually became a game Egyptian pharaohs played as far back as 1567 B.C.
Native Americans started using archery around 500 A.D.
“I imagine that it was hard. They had to make their own weapons,” said eighth-grader Dakoya Nunez.
To bring the archery program to schools, teachers must attend a one-day Basic Archery Instructor (BAI) workshop, which provides lessons on safe range setup, individual and coaching skills development and equipment inspection.
The virtual tournament took place over several days during PECS physical education classes. Participants took 15 shots from 10 meters and 15 shots at 15 meters. Prior to competing, students were allowed five shots for warm-ups.
“It was tremendous. I like doing archery,” said eighth-grader Alex Valdes.
The national NASP tournament for the Bullseye and International Bowhunting Organization 3D challenge is May 12-14 in Louisville, Kentucky. The world tournament is June 24-26 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“Archery is a great sport that helps build muscle endurance, flexibility, hand-eye coordination and grip and body strength,” Robbins said in a press release. “You don’t have to be able to dunk a basketball to participate.”