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Nelson Mandela Elem 3 Omaha NE

Archery the Equalizer

Evidence of humans using bows and arrows goes back tens of thousands of years.  It is no wonder that a skill so engrained in our collective history would be so popular.  Movies such as Brave and Robin Hood and countless others have done nothing but increase the mystique associated with archery and have inspired untold numbers of kids and adults to take up the sport. Whether target shooting, bowhunting, practicing the sport in highly specialized ways with historic long bows or mounted archery, or learning to handle a crossbow for home defense, archery has a niche for everyone. The wide-range and highly adjustable nature of archery equipment makes it adaptable to any and every person regardless of physical capability and is described by many enthusiasts as the “great equalizer” of the shooting sports world.

NASP® (National Archery in the Schools Program) archery is the most popular unit offered through Outdoor Adventures, the nation’s premier in-school outdoor education program developed and implemented by the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation. More than 92% of the 900 schools nationwide that offer Outdoor Adventures, include the NASP® unit in their classes. NASP®’s website,, includes many statistics about the sport, but is summed up with: NASP® “is an in-school program aimed at improving educational performance among students in grades 4 – 12. Students learn focus, self-control, discipline, patience, and the life lessons required to be successful in the classroom and in life.”  With NASP® archery everyone uses the same bow, Mathews Genesis, same arrows, Easton.  Everyone shoots the same distances with no sights.  No one has an unfair advantage because the equipment is standardized with no draw length or sight adjustments.  To top it all off, archery is also the safest sport in schools!

Each of the past year’s issues of American Outdoor News has focused on a different unit covered in Outdoor Adventures.  Archery stands out in its own class as the unit impacting the most kids.  As the included photos show, NASP® archery is taught in schools across the country. Some schools offer 3-D archery and bowhunting units in addition to the basic archery unit. Often competitive archery clubs are formed because of interest generated through the NASP® unit of an Outdoor Adventures class. Every year thousands of students participate in the NASP® state tournaments, with more than 15,000 students participating in this year’s national tournament.

The immediate positive feedback following an archery shot is another aspect of NASP® that separates it from other in-school programs. The program starts with using a string-bow to simulate the shot process through the “11 Steps of Archery Success” (see the NASP® website for a video of the 11 Steps).  Once a student learns the process of shooting with the string-bow, they can automatically transfer the steps, along with their new muscle memory, to the Genesis bow.  The students shoot at a blank target with no scoring rings. Simply hitting this blank target is an immediate win for the student, building their confidence, and giving them a taste of success and competency, they want more of. Amid all the pressures and highly competitive team sports programs in schools, archery offers a competitive niche for students who may not otherwise be involved with extracurricular activities. One of the top recorded positive aspects of NASP® from student surveys is how the program made them feel successful.

Students in Outdoor Adventures also take hunter education and can earn their hunter education certificate. Furthermore, they learn about the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which includes the important role hunting plays in conservation.  To learn more about how you can support the Outdoors Tomorrow Foundation and get more kids learning about archery, hunting and wildlife conservation, or to find out how to get Outdoor Adventures in your local school, contact LeAnn Schmitt, OTF Director of Partnership Development, or (817) 410-5054.