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February 16, 2024

Explore Archery Program Highlight: Checking in with the Alamance Parks Archery Program

Alamance Parks in Burlington, N.C. has a vision, and that vision is to provide high quality, inspiring programs to the public, and bringing archery to their community did just that.

With the supervision and guidance of Jason Witherspoon, a Program Superintendent for Alamance Parks, they recognized an opportunity to create a community of archers within their area and haven’t looked back.

Alamance Parks Archery registered as a new Explore Archery Program with USA Archery in 2019, after they received a grant through USA Archery, in partnership with Easton Foundations, the Archery Trade Association and North Carolina Recreation and Park Association.

The grant included an equipment kit, Explore Archery program materials, and Level 2 Instructor Certification training for staff. They rolled out their first classes a few months after receiving the grant and aimed to combine the Explore Archery curriculum with their customer-service-driven program experience to offer something not previously available in the area. Classes filled up within hours of posting the details and the program has remained popular ever since.

Witherspoon commented, “The archery program is very successful in our community. We offer sessions each spring and fall and the program fills up within days, usually with a large waitlist.

“The archery program routinely attracts adults and kids who are not engaged in any other sport but enjoy participating in our program.”

The structure of the Explore Archery Program has helped spur success of the program. Alamance Parks Archery Program largely uses the program described in the Explore Archery curriculum, while making small adaptations each session to try things and discover what works well and what doesn’t.

They noted, “We have many students who return from session to session. We have had to adjust how we engage these returning students and keep them challenged in the same classes as the pure beginner.”

Witherspoon also shared, “We receive consistent positive feedback from the public about our program. Elected officials and other community leaders have participated in our classes, and it is always great to see them enjoy the program and promote it within the community. Parents say that they appreciate how we can adapt to include everyone in our classes.”

To continue to build upon the initial success of the program, the program has been using word of mouth to attract new participants. On top of that, they use social media and banners located in and around their parks to advertise open registration.

Witherspoon estimates that in the four years since they have been offering the program, over 400 students have participated in their Explore Archery classes and camps. Their success has made them plan to start their own club that would operate independently from the Explore Archery Program but would inherit the DNA from what has worked so well for them. The club would offer a regular space for that ‘next step’ participant looking for more regular practice, community, or competition.

Witherspoon concluded, “During the past two years, we have experienced great success, and demand for the program consistently exceeds capacity.

“Archery is a core component of the Alamance Parks program offerings. Participants in our archery program enjoy the challenge and focus required of the sport.

“We strongly believe based on program feedback, participation numbers, and the size of our waitlist that the archery program is an asset to our community! We hope to expand and offer this program for years to come.”

Find out more about Explore Archery and search for a club near you to get involved.

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