Archery Seeds Take Root in Phoenix, Tucson
The ATA scattered some archery seeds in the Arizona desert just over one year ago. With the help of the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), those seeds have already begun to bear fruit in Phoenix and Tucson.
The fruits of this combined labor were to provide more outdoor recreation opportunities for youth through archery and bowhunting programs. By working closely together, the ATA and AGFD have partnered to develop and implement a strong community archery strategy.
“The ATA focuses on developing cooperative agreements with state agencies that are showing strong leadership and initiative to expand or begin new archery programs,” said Mitch King, ATA government relations director. “We work with these states to develop and implement strategies and provide support funding to get the ball rolling.”
The approach has been a success in the pilot states of Arizona, Virginia, Nevada and Michigan. Kentucky will soon join the fold as well. In Arizona the partnership between ATA and AGFD has helped to double the time and staff dedicated to archery activities.
“After recognizing the benefit of the ATA’s technical and financial assistance, the AGFD agency director decided to increase emphasis on shooting sports recruitment efforts,” King noted.
Since the partnership’s inception, AGFD has expanded its' archery in the schools program by twenty percent. It has also actively reached out to city and county parks and recreation departments to provide more fun and educational archery opportunities.
Through programs such as ATA Explore Bowhunting™, youth also learn about wildlife and hunting. “These programs are surprisingly popular, even in major metropolitan areas,” King stated. “The more kids that are afforded the opportunity to try their hand at it, the more likely they are to become avid shooters and, hopefully, bowhunters.”
Denise Raum, AGFD Hunter Recruitment and Retention Coordinator, has been working with the ATA and Arizona parks and recreation departments to forge new partnerships. AGFD staff has met with representatives from Pima, Maricopa and Coconino counties, as well as the City of Phoenix parks departments. In the last two months, the department has met with 14 parks departments that will potentially reach over 50 different sites.
“There is definitely an interest in archery related programming with the majority of the departments we have met with,” Raum said. “Some good things are beginning to happen and we are very optimistic about the possibilities. The Parks and Recreation Departments that we are working with are primarily interested in introductory level archery programs for their communities. What we'll do is develop a plan for implementation, marketing and next-step opportunities to ensure that we not only recruit new archers, we also retain them.”
According to Raum, thanks to the strong partnerships that have been established, the archery seeds planted by the ATA a year ago are blossoming into an orchard in Arizona.
Did You Know?
The ATA created the Bowhunting Preservation Alliance bowhunting books, whose net proceeds from sales support school, after-school and community archery programs. These funds also help maintain archery ranges.