In the college I attended, physical education class was mandatory, one hour every week, and one of the activities for several weeks was “How to shoot a bow and arrow.”
I admit it was fun, and a year or so after that, I became a bowhunter. I always thought it was a great course to have and that perhaps it should have been given even earlier than college. Well, the National Archery In School Program (NASP) has been working on just that. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Joe Martens announced that there are now more than 15,000 students at 122 schools from 92 school districts statewide participating.
NASP is a cooperative effort between state conservation departments, school systems and private organizations to help engage young citizens in outdoor activities and participate in the enduring sport of archery. This program promotes student education and lifelong participation in archery. Since its inception in March 2002 in Kentucky, more than four million students at over 8,500 schools located in 47 states and five countries have participated in NASP — 1.7 million of them in 2010-2011. It’s definitely becoming very popular. New York State was the 44th state to join.
Mohanasen, Draper Middle School, Scotia-Glenville High School and Northville already participate, and Gloversville and Ballston Spa will join soon. Wow, I wonder what happened with our other area schools?
In March, New York state held its fourth annual “virtual” NASP tournament with 309 students from 15 schools participating for top honors. A virtual tournament is one that the students compete in at their respective schools where they shoot three rounds at 10 meters and three rounds at 15 meters. There are three grade shooting divisions: high school (grades 9-12), middle school (grades 7-8) and elementary school (grades 4-6). The maximum score they can achieve is 300 points, and their scores are sent to the NASP coordinator. I would love to watch those fourth-graders shoot.
Both the top female and male shooters came from Fabius-Pompey High School in Onondaga County. Alexa Denhoff scored 255, and Jay Vinson shot 283. Sponsors and supporters of this event were: National Wild Turkey Federation, New York Bowhunters and Sportspeople Helping Others Through Sharing.
Physical education teacher Robin Bartholomew at Cato Meridian in Cayuga County had good things to say about the program.
“NASP is very well organized and methodical in its approach to teaching archery to students,” she said. “It helps to have an activity to offer students who are not interested or skilled in team sports. I’ve found that it’s one sport that many of the students look forward to doing in class as well as participating outside the school setting.”
In addition to in-state competition, there’s also an annual national tournament and at this year’s NASP National in Kentucky in May, they set a world record when they registered 8,171 student shooters, and had nearly 30,000 people who witnessed the event. There are two ways to qualify for the National, as an individual and as a team. New York doesn’t yet have a team that competes. The individuals qualify by placing first through fifth in the elementary, middle and high school divisions. The major prizes in previous years have been $14,000 in scholarships, but with sponsorships from Mathews Archery, Bass Pro Shops, Muzzy, LaPorte, Wildlife Research and Neet Archery Products, this year’s scholarships awards amounted to $50,000. New York sent six students from Jordan Elbridge (Onondaga) to compete.
NASP is designed to teach International-style target archery in grades 4-12 physical education classes that include archery history, safety, technique, equipment, mental concentration, core strengthening physical fitness and self-improvement. Those who are going to teach/instruct this two-week archery course are required to complete an eight-hour National Archery in the Schools Program Basic Archery Instructor Training Program.
Fortunately, the archery industry has reduced the normal $6,000 cost for the needed equipment to $3,100-$3,500, depending upon type of targets and bow hanging units chosen. Most of the shooting is done in a gymnasium at 80cm bull’s-eye targets placed in front of an arrow curtain with state-of-the-art equipment that fits every student.
The DEC is looking for volunteers to assist in training physical education teachers from additional schools for NASP. This is a great opportunity for some of our local sportsmans’ clubs to help build this program here in our own area. We currently have only four active NASP schools in our area and two “coming soon.” There are a lot more schools in our area that could be taking advantage of this program. Let’s talk to some of these schools. Anyone interested in volunteering or who knows of a school that would or might be be interested in joining, they should contact Melissa Bailey, the state program coordinator for NASP-NY, at (315) 793-2515 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
DEC DEER TASK FORCE
Do you hunt/live in DEC Wildlife Management Unit (WMU) 4B? This WMU includes the town of Niskayuna, part of the town of Rotterdam and the city of Schenectady in Schenectady County, portions of Guilderland, New Scotland, Bethlehem and Coeymans in Albany County.
DEC announced that it recently formed a citizen’s deer management task force for this WMU. The Task Force will be made up of 10 people representing a wide range of interests concerned with the deer population in a particular area that will meet and make specific recommendations to DEC regarding the size of deer populations in WMU 4B.
The information this task force will use to determine the herd size will be gathered from its constituents, and will be the basis for their recommendations.
It will be the job of this task force to seek this information and anyone with information should contact these members no later than Saturday regarding the following three questions: Is the size of this year’s herd in WMU 4B too high, too low or about right? Should the deer herd in your area increase, decrease or remain stable, and if it should change, by how much? And lastly, what are the benefits and consequences of your recommendations.
Here is a list of the task force members and who they represent: Agricultural, Tim Albright, Indian Ladder Farms; Sporting, Tim Barnard, Albany County Alliance; Law Enforcement, Mark DeFrancesco, Albany County Sheriffs; Tourism/Business, Scott Osswald, Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce; Ecologist, Sue Vilord, Clough Harbour Associates; Private Conservation Land Manager, Jill Knapp, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy; Highway Safety, Steven Oliver, Guilderland Highway Department; Birder, Gary Goodness, Hudson Mohawk Bird Club; Local Government, Mark Storti, Schenectady County Economic Development and Planning Department, and Rural Property owner, Tom George.
Opinions regarding the size of the deer herd may also be sent directly to DEC at email@example.com or mailed to Karl Parker, DEC Region 4, 1130 North Westcott Road, Schenectady, NY 12306.