Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
In 2002, the National Archery in the Schools Program began with fourth- through 12th-grade students in mind.
“The National Archery in the Schools Program is an in-school program aimed at improving educational performance,” according to the official NASP website, “and through it, students are learning focus, self-control, discipline, patience and the life lessons required to be successful in the classroom and in life.”
Harrold Youth Center has been supporting NASP’s initiative for more than five years with an archery class from 4-5 p.m. every Wednesday.
“We teach them the 11 steps (stance, nock, draw hand placement, bow hand placement, pre-draw, draw, anchor, aim, shot setup, release, and follow through and reflect) for approaching and shooting the bow; they learn range safety and they learn whistle commands — two whistles to get bow, one whistle to shoot and three whistles to go get arrow,” said Brenda Taxeras, Child and Youth Services program assistant and archery instructor. “They learn care of the equipment and basically how to set up the range and take it back down again, too.”
Taxeras said the students are not only learning archery, but also life skills.
“It teaches them patience and concentration, and they have to have discipline because they have to follows the steps,” Taxeras said. “If they veer off those steps, there is a reason their archery targets won’t be as good. It also teaches them hand and eye coordination.”
Taxeras said the process also forces muscle strength.
“When you are ready to shoot, you want to squeeze your shoulders together, and a lot of them don’t know that muscle, so it teaches them that and works muscles that they haven’t used,” she said. “There is also score keeping, and they have to adapt if their arrows are all going into one section and not hitting the bullseye, so we teach them how to adjust that aim.”
Taxeras said the class isn’t all work.
“I give them fun times,” Taxeras said. “We shoot sometimes at balloons on the target or put paper plates up or play other games where they have to aim at something besides the target.
“They improve all the time,” she said. “It gives them self-confidence when they start hitting (any part of) the target.”
Tommte Prokoph, Leavenworth High School sophomore, said he has been attending the archery class since his family came to Fort Leavenworth.
“I like archery in general,” Prokoph said. “I just like to shoot it. I like the outside and just practicing. It is like a little workout.”
Prokoph said he was first introduced to archery while in his home country of Germany in a group similar to Boy Scouts.
“I just liked it and kept going to do it,” he said.
Archery class is 4-5 p.m. every Wednesday at Harrold Youth Center. All students in sixth- through 12th-grade who are registered through Parent Central are eligible to participate. For more information, call 684-5118.
Taxeras also teaches a Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills (SKIES) archery course from 6-7 p.m. every Monday for children 9 years old and older. To sign-up, call 684-3207.
For more information about NASP, visit naspschools.org. The course uses NASP approved bows and arrows.