8.10.10 | Explore Bowhunting Program Aims to Get Kids Back Outside
Like countless others, Emily Beach and Mary Emmons are bothered by what they see. Or, more precisely, what they don't see.
What they don't see is today's youth enjoying the outdoors at the same levels as previous generations, a downward trend that has prevailed for at least a decade. Beach and Emmons believe an Archery Trade Association (ATA) program known as Explore Bowhunting can help counter that trend.
Beach, manager of education and research for the ATA, an international trade association dedicated to growing archery and bowhunting and increasing participation in the sport, and Emmons, archery education coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE), recently offered Michigan's first Explore Bowhunting workshop.
“It was really encouraging to see the excellent number of participants and the fact that they represented such a wide range of organizations,” Emmons said. “It just reaffirmed that there is a real desire among so many adults to do what they can to get kids back outdoors. We're really looking forward to implementing this program in Michigan.”
Held at the Ralph MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon, the workshop drew 53 participants. Attendees came from urban, suburban and rural areas of the state and represented a wide mix of organizations, from schools, government education programs, and nature centers, to church groups, and park and recreation departments.
The intent of the workshop is to familiarize adult educators with the Explore Bowhunting curriculum. They, in turn, will then be able to teach bowhunting to youth between the ages of 11 and 17, as well as women. Participants will also have access to Explore Bowhunting teaching trunks that contain all the necessary equipment and materials to effectively teach bowhunting.
“Nature-based outdoor recreation provides emotional and physical benefits for participants but too often young people are never exposed to it,” Beach said. “Traditionally, parents and other older family members were more directly involved in introducing young people to the outdoors. In today's hectic world, however, that is no longer the case. Explore Bowhunting helps fill that void.”
During the workshop, participants are introduced to many of the 22 hands-on teaching activities included in the curriculum. They range from learning about the kind of equipment and gear one needs to bowhunt to shot placement, anatomy and field dressing, how to blend quietly into the natural surroundings, or animal behavior.
Research has shown that if a young person is not introduced to an outdoor activity such as hunting or fishing at a relatively young age, they likely will never become involved. And if they do not become involved, future generations will not have the experiences that inherently promote the stewardship of wildlife, habitat and conservation.
Explore Bowhunting was developed by the ATA, while the organization supports many others to help young people connect with nature through archery as a mainstream outdoor recreation activity. For more information about Explore Bowhunting, click here. For more information about Michigan's Explore Bowhunting, click here
Did You Know?
The ATA trade show averages more than 450 exhibitors, 8,000 attendees and more than 150,000 square feet of exhibit space.