7.20.10 | Houston Academy Targets New Archers
New Ulm, Minn. —The Houston, Texas Parks and Recreation Department wants to spin its own sort of web. A really big web, one that will grow day by day and eventually span the entire city.
The aim? To grab the attention of young people and allow archery to snag their interests in the country's fourth largest city.
Construction of such a web began May 5-7 when 14 employees of the city's Park and Recreation Department completed the Archery Trade Association's (ATA) first-ever Archery Academy, made possible by a generous grant from the Easton Sports Development Foundation to the ATA to grow the sport.
Completing the academy qualifies participants to teach archery through Parks and Recreation programs. Just as it qualifies them to train other archery instructors. As more instructors come on board, the web's reach will expand.
"The 'training the trainer' concept creates a domino effect that will help bring the sport of archery to the very doorstep of many more youth who might otherwise never have the opportunity to become involved," explained Michelle Doerr, the ATA director of archery and bowhunting programs.
Doerr, along with Dee Falks, the ASA federation director and a USA Archery elite coach, were the academy instructors.
During the three-day academy, participants received training on topics such as range safety, archery equipment, how to set up a program, coaching positions, and archery games. They were also given the opportunity to attend workshops on subjects such as ATA's Explore Bowhunting Program, coaching tips and how to design an archery facility. One of the more popular workshops, Doerr said, was the bowhunting program.
"We often see the assumption that interest in bowhunting is low in large metropolitan areas like Houston," Doerr said "But that's not the case. Attendees, with little or no exposure to bowhunting were simply interested in how the activities in Explore Bowhunting could be used to keep kids engaged and expand on what they might learn in archery class. The key seems to be, if it's fun and safe, all forms of archery will be embraced.
Academy attendee Kay Joshua, the recreation programs division manager for the city said, "the professionalism of the ATA staff and those who assisted with the academy was outstanding. The academy will allow our trained managers to introduce archery as a new program and take this sport to a higher level to reach youth and teen audiences we have not been able to before."
The ultimate goal of the ATA and the archery and bowhunting industry the association represents is to elevate archery to a level on par with other mainstream urban school and community sports such as baseball, volleyball, tennis, soccer or swimming.
"There is no reason why archery cannot become as popular as those other sports activities" Doerr said. "Eventually, I believe it will."
For that to happen, however, it is critical to make instruction and guidance, equipment, and facilities readily accessible to youth, where they can practice and learn.
The city's approach "was very impressive," Doerr said. By strategically selecting participants from all four of the city's Parks and Recreation regions, the city ensured there would be a geographic balance of instructors and programs to allow the threads of the web to grow and interconnect with ease.
The ATA partners with state wildlife agencies and, each agency's partnerships act as force-multipliers, connecting the association with schools, Park and Recreation Departments, local organizations and retailers to broaden archery opportunities for all people. The ATA expressly targets metropolitan areas where there are large untapped audiences ripe for exposure to archery.
Steve Hall, the hunter and boater education director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, felt the academy was "very worthwhile for a variety of reasons. Introducing an overall archery strategy that describes how facilities, archery retailers, and school and after-school programs, can all work together was especially beneficial."
Hall said his department would like to offer at least one new archery academy each year.
By utilizing these existing relationships with cities, counties, and state and federal agencies, the ATA leverages funding opportunities to enhance the menu of archery program options, particularly with state agencies eager to capitalize on available Federal Excise Tax dollars from the sale of hunting and fishing equipment.
One of those "good things," Joshua said, is already happening. The Parks and Recreation Department is implementing archery in its Summer Enrichment Program that serves as many as 2,000 youth in nature and outdoor recreation programs at Lake Houston Wilderness Park and in community centers."
Future academies are slated for Alabama, Arizona, and Michigan and Minnesota.
About the Archery Academies: The Archery Academy is a joint program provided by the ATA and its members and made possible by a generous grant from the Easton Foundations. The ATA and Easton Foundations work together on a number of projects designed to grow archery and bowhunting participation. These growth projects would not be possible without the support of ATA members and the Easton Foundations.
Did You Know?
In 2004, ATA estimated the average full-time dealers’ sales were $282,000.