ATA Archery Academy Comes to Alabama
Those in the know realize that youth-participation rates in archery and other shooting sports lag behind sports such as tennis, football or baseball in school and community recreational activities.
The Archery Trade Association (ATA) is in the know. And it knows the best way to increase participation rates for youths and other beginners in archery is to continually provide more shooting opportunities. An ATA Archery Academy, such as a recent one held in Cullman, Ala., is a program designed to do just that.
Archery academies are offered through state wildlife agencies that want to learn how to work with schools and park and recreation departments to expand archery and bowhunting opportunities, especially for youths in metropolitan areas. The ATA selected the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (ADWFF) to be the third state to participate in an academy, joining Texas and Michigan.
The Cullman academy attracted 30 adult participants, primarily from 17 Alabama community park and recreation departments. Academy participants learned how to enhance and expand archery programs, facilities and activities in their communities for youths and other beginners.
Jennifer Mazur, coordinator of archery and bowhunting programs, said the goal is to mainstream archery, just like tennis, soccer or softball. “Alabama is really moving in that direction,” Mazur said. “It was great to hear from almost every city that participated in the academy. They were either in the process of getting an archery park, already had one, or had a place in mind to offer shooting.”
The city of Tallassee is one community that’s committed to growing archery, said Tammy Merrett, the city’s parks and recreation program coordinator. Merrett was one of three Tallassee participants at the academy. She said the city has launched a capital fundraising campaign to build a multiplex recreational area on 37 acres donated by the local hospital.
“We’re extremely excited about having an archery range on part of this land,” Merrett said. “After touring the Cullman archery park, we believe we have the perfect place to develop one of our own. At the academy, we learned how to teach, how to set up and manage a range, and how to start different kinds of archery programs. It was great. In fact, my 12-year-old daughter and I have put in a request to Santa for new bows this year!”
Academy participants can select from a menu of workshop topics taught by experts in the field. The topics range from learning coaching tips to how-to lessons for developing community archery facilities and programs. By completing the academy, participants become certified to teach beginning achery, thus broadening the reach of archery across the state.
Ray Metzler, hunter education coordinator for the ADWFF, believes that offering archery as part of the program for park and rec departments will make archery more visible and pay huge dividends in the future. “It gives youths one more outlet where they can get involved in something positive,” he said, “whether for social and recreational reasons or on a competitive level.”
Metzler said schools and park and rec departments are critical players in engaging more youths in archery and bowhunting. To persuade more of them to promote the shooting sports, the ADWFF and Easton Sports Development Foundation are offering additional incentives, Metzler said.
“Our agency will provide a $1,000 grant to purchase equipment to the first 10 cities that implement archery as part of their programming,” Metzler said. “And the Easton Sports Development Foundation has agreed to match each city’s expenditure. We are determined to provide as many young people as we can with the opportunity to enjoy the sport of archery.”
ATA archery academies are made possible through an Easton grant to the ATA. The ATA regularly partners with agencies, schools, retailers, park-and-rec departments, and state and local organizations to expand archery opportunities for people of all ages and ability. For additional information on the ATA and programs it offers, such as Explore Bowhunting and Community Archery Program, visit www.archerytrade.org.
Did You Know?
Through the efforts of the ATA staff and expertise, state agencies are using federal excise tax dollars (known as Federal Aid or Pittman-Robertson funds) to establish school, after-school and community archery programs.