The National Archery in the Schools
Program (NASP) aims to put bows in the hands of youngsters across the country.
Haven’t heard of NASP? Here’s what it’s all about, in its own words:
It started with a simple question. How could we engage a ‘lost generation’ of
young people who did not grow up in rural America in wildlife conservation and shooting
sports? Most of ‘us’ grew up in areas near or in the middle of rural communities.
We knew how to entertain ourselves with nature. In fact, nature was the focus
of our outdoor pastimes including hunting, fishing, hiking, catching frogs, and butterflies,
beetles and turtles.
The generation of young people today are more urban and ‘city kids.’ How could we
engage them in outdoor shooting sports , teach outdoor skills and encourage interest
in other activities. Roy Grimes and I hit on the idea that was not new.
It is old…….archery.
In our public school days archery was commonly taught in the physical education classes.
Mostly, the boys gravitated to it because of the sheer, brute strength it took to
shoot the recurve bow. So, we started researching ways to assure
that every child in school could learn archery. Archery is fun and safe and
for many of us is the first shooting sport we learn.
After much research and discussion with school administrators, teachers, curriculum
writers, archery industry leaders and state officials we began a pilot program with
a simple ‘Mission’: Promote the teaching of target archery as a part of the
in-school curriculum to improve educational performance of students and encourage
their participation in the shooting sports. It was from this simple goal that the
Kentucky Archery in the Schools Program was born. Because sister agencies in
other states agreed with our strategy, within a year KASP became the National Archery
in the Schools Program (NASP).
Some basic operating principles were established and implemented in twenty one pilot
middle schools in Kentucky in March, 2002. These same operating principles remain
constant today and account for the steady growth and continued interest in 5400 schools
in five countries. More than a million students will learn archery from their
teachers this school year.
The Operating Principles
First and foremost in each NASP school program is Safety. It just so happens
that according to the National Safety Council, archery is safer than every ball sport
offered in schools except….table tennis. Safety and range set up is replete
throughout NASP Basic Archery Instructor (BAI) courses.
NASP is oriented to ‘target archery.’ NASP founder are lifetime hunters but NASP is
strictly target archery. Archery is a lifetime skill and is safe, wholesome,
and non-controversial. The program is designed to reach all students whether
rural, urban or special needs. Teaching a lifetime skill will give the individual
the ability to choose whether to continue target shooting or try other venues.
The equipment designated for use in NASP is suited for the typical 4th-12th grade
physical education class. No matter the students size, ability, or gender every
archer in NASP uses an identical bow, identical arrows, and learns to shoot at distances
that guarantee immediate success. The lessons are designed for safe shooting indoors
our outside. NASP courses are presented as a part of the in-school curriculum.
The course is designed to be at or above national curriculum standards and must be
taught in school during the day as a part of the school curriculum. This assures
that archery is offered to all students. This in-school teaching principle is why
77% of NASP graduates report this was their first time to experience archery.
Because NASP isn’t an “after-school-only” effort, we are not simply preaching to the
NASP training is consistent, comprehensive, and current. Range set up, operation
and training methods are standard in each school. Specific training methods
assure the proficiency of the teacher and their graduation from Basic Archery Instructor
(BAI) class is a prerequisite to offering NASP courses in schools.
NASP teaches a lifetime skill. In doing so we stress the teaching of skills
over technology. Each student learns on identical equipment which is safe, universal
fit, modern looking, affordable, durable and interesting for the teacher and student
to learn. This levels the playing field for all archers and encourages focus on technique
and form instead of equipment and technology.
NASP is a 501.c.3 non-profit organization governed by a national board of directors.
NASP works with states, provinces, and countries and seeks to establish partnerships
with institutional partners on a state or country-wide basis. In doing so, NASP
partners are asked to endorse a simple “Letter of Understanding” which confirms the
mutual interest in adhering to the NASP mission and these operating principles.
This also confirms that NASP is a gateway activity which creates opportunity for state
agencies to engage students in afterschool or special events which may include their
interest in other outdoor activities.
About a third of the 5400 NASP schools offer an ‘after school archery program.’ NASP
operating principles require that NASP first be offered in-school to every student
before starting an after school club or activity. This assures that any NASP
activity is conducted fairly and uniformly to assure that it is inclusive and suited
for all ability levels.
Many schools and most states are experiencing interest in competitions between schools,
in their state or province, nationally and for the first time internationally.
NASP will conduct its first ever “WORLD TOURNAMENT’’ at Disney World Wide World of
Sports®, on October 8-11, 2009.
NASP funding partners and sponsors are keys to the growth and stability of the program.
Recently, four other organizations were added to the three NASP mainstays of the National
Wild Turkey Federation, the Safari Club International, and the Mule Deer Foundation.
Those four new partners are the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Quality Deer Management
Association, the Pheasants Forever, and Quail Forever. Clearly, these organizations
recognize the “Mission” of NASP and the opportunity for archery to be a gateway to
other outdoor activities.
NASP is the fastest growing shooting sport in history. It has a spotless safety
record and surveys indicate wide spread support from teachers, parents, administrators,
and students. We do what we do best-teach the lifetime skill of archery to every
child in the school.
We focus on the mission.