GARRISON — A patient instructor was helping a young archer determine the proper aiming point. Moments later the light swish of a released bowstring and flight of an arrow was followed by the distinctive thunk of a target being struck. Young archers were eagerly practicing their craft in the City Auditorium.
“This is our third year,” said Robert Miller, Garrison, volunteer instructor. “We usually get between 30 and 50 kids coming out on Sunday to practice.”
The growth of the National Archery in the Schools program here has been nothing short of phenomenal, added Miller, with “the city itself supporting us and the superintendent of schools 100% behind it.”
Miller said a big part of what makes NASP so popular is that all equipment is provided free of charge to participants. Additionally, there are no membership fees that might hinder participation.
“The kids don’t have to come up with a bow. We provide it all, targets too,” said Miller. “We have a bow and arrows for every kid that comes. That's the beauty of this program.”
“We have a bow and arrows for every kid that comes. That's the beauty of this program.” Robert Miller, Garrison, volunteer instructor
Generous donors from the community and area have pitched in to help ensure the success of the program, and it has grown considerably in a relatively brief period of time. Garrison will be hosting its first NASP tournament on February 26.
“Response has been phenomenal,” remarked Miller. “We were hoping for 200 kids and, checking our registrations, we’re already there. We’ll have up to 40 shooters at a time on the line.”
NASP is open to students in grades 4-12. Third graders are invited to practice sessions to become acquainted with the sport but are not eligible for competitive shoots. Shooting distances vary from 10 to 15 yards. Both bullseye and 3D animal targets are used.
“When you watch from week to week, it’s crazy how fast kids pick this up,” remarked Miller.
Miller is assisted by volunteer coaches Amber and Jessie Carter, Donald Franklin, Cory Bitner, and Chad Wimer. All are from Garrison. Wimer also coaches the McLean County 4-H archers, many of whom participate in NASP at Garrison.
The state NASP tournament is scheduled for March 18-19 in Minot.