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October 17, 2010

ATA Academies Bring Archery to Community Recreation Programs

Parks and Recreation professionals provide athletic opportunities to millions of adults and children each year, and is often the agency to which people look for local sporting activities. The Archery Trade Association (ATA), seeing the potential for a powerhouse relationship between Parks and Recreation departments, other community recreation professionals, and the archery community, recently began offering Archery Academies in key locations across the United States.

The Academies are designed to provide members of this audience with the tools they need to start archery programs in their area. The most recent Academy, held at Michigan State University in Lansing, MI, and coordinated with the assistance of Mary Emmons of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, focused on teaching attendees "how to implement beginning and intermediate archery classes, after school programs, leagues, camps and special events."

Sponsored by the ATA and the Easton Sports Development Foundations, the Michigan Academy began with all participants completing the Basic Archery Instructor's course, taught by USA Archery Elite Coach Dee Falks, who was assisted by Regional Coach and USA Archery National Judge John Stover. Throughout the day, students of the Academy gained a working knowledge of all types of archery equipment, as well as receiving an overview of the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP), and explored designs for an Archery Park, which is a shooting range comprised of several different types of targets, including those for target, field and 3D archery.

During the Archery Park segment, students were able to put some of their new archery skills to the test, shooting FITA-style, field and 3D targets at distances as far as 50 meters, while witnessing a shooting demonstration at 70 meter. "Our goal is to let people know what is out there in archery, whether they are seeking recreational, competitive or outdoor pursuits," explained Michelle Doerr, ATA's Director of Archery and Bowhunting Programs.

The second and final day of the Academy focused on the different ways that Parks and Recreation professionals can introduce archery into their communities, including an introduction to USA Archery's Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) and Adult Archery Achievement programs. Stover, who presented on behalf of USA Archery, stated that "it was great to see the interest from the audience in these programs, which allow archers to pursue archery recreationally, or go for the ultimate dream."

The final afternoon of the Academy focused first on Explore Bowhunting, a hands-on program in which the audience participates in 22 hands-on activities designed to teach the basic skills of bowhunting. Attendees then received information on field and 3D archery, as well as archery leagues; the final portion of the Academy focused on local resources, such as retailers and clubs, which can provide Academy students with assistance in starting an archery program. Another Academy is scheduled for November in Alabama, where participants are expected to focus on many of the same topics, but receive even more hands-on training.  

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