A mere year into the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR), Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) South Decatur Elementary School (SDES) placed seventh in the state competition, in the elementary school division.
Two years into the program, Greensburg Junior High School (GJHS) placed ninth in the state middle school division, an improvement from last year’s 10th place.
Both schools have top competitors in the state in the boys’ division; Hunter Burkman, sixth grader at GJHS, placed first in his division, and Eric Hedger of SDES placed second in the state in his division.
Conservation Officer Andy Hagerty and Corporal Bill Beville were filled with praise for the two schools’ teams for their high performances. Twenty-four to a team, the teams placed highly out of the 1056 individuals (44 teams) who competed in the state archery competition held in Louisville, Ky.
Cpl. Beville said while NASP has been around for approximately 11 years, NASP is a new entity in Decatur County. The conservation officers also praised Tom Stricker of Cutting Edge Sporting Goods for his participation in getting the Decatur County schools involved.
“It’s just a matter of pushing it,” said Stricker, “Because it’s a good program for who aren’t into sports.”
Stricker and his wife have been pushing to have NASP in Decatur County Schools since 2009, “The schools finally said ‘yeah, let’s go with it’,” said Stricker. “It’s just blown up.”
There are only a handful of schools which haven’t joined the program, but Stricker hopes that all of the schools will have at least one team by next year.
Cpl. Beville said interest in the archery program has been extremely high. Seventy-two kids at SDES tried out for the 24-person teams. Schools are permitted to have multiple teams, which may occur if the interest stays alive.
Stricker said community involvement will be important, as the teams may be in need of monetary donations in the future, as well as volunteers to teach the kids.
“One team qualified to go to Disney World in Orlando, but there was not enough money to send 24 kids to Disney. It’s expensive,” said Stricker.
Ten thousand schools compete nationally, and one tenth of Indiana schools participate in NASP.
Officer Andy Hagerty explained that the DNR has had to appear at schools to teach the gym teachers how to teach the students proper archery techniques.
“It all starts in P.E.,” said Hagerty, who has helped train 14 teachers.
Hagerty said the archery program is a great equalizer between genders and kids with disabilities (He spoke briefly of a visually impaired girl in Jennings County who is participating in archery with the use of beeps near the bullseye). The sport is also attracting kids who are not normally into sports, said Hagerty, and has been found to be beneficial to participants’ self-esteem.
For more information about NASP, check http://www.indiananasp.com.
Contact: Tess Rowing 812-663-3111 x7004