Rapid Growth in WV Archery Program


The West Virginia DNR estimates the Archery in Schools program has reached more than 72,000 young people in the state since it was introduced in 2004.

"We’re about 268 schools right now that are involved," said Krista Snodgrass, coordinator of the program for the DNR. "We’ve definitely grown!"

This weekend the program will bring together 658 archers from 50-schools in 65-divisional teams across West Virginia.  The 2012 state tournament will be staged at the Charleston Civic Center.  The first tournament in 2005 was held at Capital High School.  Each year the venue has grown.  It’s also been staged at Braxton County High School and the Summersville National Guard Armory.  The numbers now necessitate the larger venue at the Civic Center.

Students typically get their exposure to the program through a physical education class.  Any child from 4th grade to 12th grade is eligible to participate.

"It gives the kids something different to do," said Snodgrass.  "Not everybody is involved or likes basketball or baseball.  There’s nothing wrong with those sports, but they don’t appeal to everyone.  Archery gives those kids an activity they can get involved in."

The activity is a great equalizer.   Students all shoot the same equipment.  The compound bows used in the program are identical and come with no site pins or release.   All arrows are identical.

"It’s all based on instinct, there’s no site," Snodgrass explains. "Everyone uses the same equipment from the 4th grade to the 12th grade.  It’s very versatile."

Shooters in competition shoot one practice round consisting of five arrows.    The competitors shoot three rounds of five arrows each from a range of 10-meters and then three rounds of five arrows each from 15-meters.   The target is a standard 10-ring bull’s-eye setup.  The score after the two position shoot is tallied top to bottom for the best scores.   Winners can advance to the National Championship shoot in Louisville, Kentucky.

Safety is the most critical element of the program.  The instructor uses a series of whistle commands to engage students to begin or stop shooting.   The commands also indicate when it’s time to retrieve arrows.  

"The first one of these I attended I was shocked," said Snodgrass. "The gym is dead silent.  These kids take this very seriously."

Snodgrass says they are always interested in adding the program to new schools.   Training programs are staged several times a year to familiarize a prospective instructor on how to create a sanctioned Archery in Schools program.  Typically a gym teacher is the preferred instructor since the activity is considered a lifelong physical pursuit and gym teachers have access to the greatest number of students.  However, other schools have incorporated the program into a club activity or an after school program.

Registration for this weekend’s event is at 8:00am at the Charleston Civic Center.  Shooting competition begins at 9am.  Organizers expect more than a thousand spectators to be on hand and welcome all spectators.


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