Olympian To Train Teachers in Archery

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Texas teachers will have an opportunity to learn from one of the world’s elite archers, former Olympic gold medalist Rod White, and pass those skills on to their students as part of a new National Archery in Schools program.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is seeking interested participants to be the first National Archery in Schools program instructors and teachers trained in Texas. The pilot workshop will be held in Austin, Sept. 14-16 at Ojeda Junior High School, next to the department’s headquarters complex at McKinney Falls State Park.

The program, targeting middle and high school students, is a skills-based archery program emphasizing life-long opportunities. Started in Kentucky, and in only its third year, the program is now in 32 states and growing.

National and regional competitions have been held recognizing top schools and individuals but the program is geared toward teaching youngsters skills that involve discipline, focus, precision and fundamentals — like any sport.

“What’s great about archery,” according to Roy Grimes, the national director who helped developed the program, “is that everyone can participate and excel at the sport. Those inclined to go on and compete can do so; those that simply want to have fun can be involved, too.”

Two levels of instruction will be presented during the three-day workshop. Advanced training will be offered during the first two days of the workshop for participants familiar with archery fundamentals, range setup and coaching techniques is designed for those who want to train teachers statewide in the program. The third day will focus on basic level training specifically for teachers wanting to use the program within their school curricula — primarily physical education, agriculture science and outdoor education courses.

As a popular Olympic sport, archery has enjoyed a renewed interest, especially among school children. “The program is really taking off and it shows that youngsters have an interest in archery as an integral sport taught in gym classes across the United States,” said White. “Everyone can compete, everyone can be successful, and everyone can have fun learning how to shoot with bow and arrow.”

The archery course can be set up in a school gymnasium in a safe, easy fashion, and the equipment is available at reduced rates to teachers. TPWD is providing loaner sets to the first 10 pilot schools. Other schools that come on board will be able to purchase the basic sets at the reduced rates directly from the manufacturers sponsoring the program at the national level.

Grimes summarized, “Educators love the program because it engages a large percentage of the student body in the educational process — early data demonstrate that attendance, behavior and self-esteem are improved through this program.”

The maximum number of participants for both training units is 20, and reservations will be taken on a first-come-first-served basis. Those who do not get into this pilot opportunity will be placed on a list for future training workshops to be conducted throughout Texas.

There is no cost for this pilot program except for lodging and some meals. TPWD is covering the cost of the instruction, materials and lunches, sponsored by the Texas Hunter Education Instructor’s Association.

Free lodging is available upon request, but is farther away from the hotels located a few minutes from the school.

If you would like to be included, please call Steve Hall, education director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at (512) 389-4568 or e-mail him at steve.hall@tpwd.state.tx.us. The program is part of the state’s hunter and bowhunter education efforts; programs that are supported from the sales of archery equipment through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Federal Assistance in Wildlife Restoration” efforts.