NASP administrators from 35 states, Canada, United Kingdom, and South Africa attended. Parents, teachers, and sponsors of the program also joined the three-day planning meeting. Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency Assistant Director, Barry Sumners, (TWRA) kicked off this year’s conference by congratulating the group for their fourteen years of dedication to teach youth archery around the world.
As a Tennessee native, Sumners expressed pride that Tennessee was among the first wave of states to join NASP as the 17th of 47 states to join the program. Since this year’s conference was held in “Music City”, he encouraged attendees to explore downtown Nashville and its melodic attractions!
Roy Grimes, CEO/President of NASP, provided information about program growth as part of his “state of the program” report. Grimes noted that most successes in NASP are a result of efforts by program administrators, most of whom work for their respective state fish & wildlife agency. School numbers jumped 9.3% to more than 13,500 in the past year. More than 2.23 million students took NASP lessons from their teachers during the just ended school year. To date more than 15 million students have participated in the program.
Before NASP began in 2002, there were a reported seven million archers in the United States. That number now exceeds 18 million archers. The smallest division of archers in NASP are comprised of about 600,000 high school (HS) students. Even so, NASP as a high school sport exceeds the numbers of HS students participating in well-established activities such as wrestling, tennis, and swimming. NASP’s impact as the world’s largest youth target and 3D archery program continues to expand.
There are now just under 50,000 teachers and parents certified to present NASP archery lessons. More than 7,500 of these adults were certified this past year by taking NASP’s highly structured, 8-hour course.
Finally Grimes concluded by letting conference attendees know that national tournament attendance increased by 15.3% to 12,045 in May. World Tournament attendance climbed by 50.2% over 2014 with 4,876 kids shooting right there in Nashville this year.
Various medal level sponsors attended the conference to show their support and brainstorm ways to better serve the program’s youthful clientele. Matthews Archery, Morrell Targets, Easton Foundations, Gordon Composites, NWTF, RMEF, Rinehart Targets, EA Promotions, Academy Sports and Outdoors, and other sponsors, work together to provide equipment grants so new schools have the funds needed to provide approved NASP equipment for teachers to instruct their classes. Because of the longstanding relationship between NASP and it’s sponsors, the program will once again be able to provide more than $300,000 in equipment grants in the 2015-16 school year.
Carri Garrett, from Easton Technical Products described a student survey being implemented to determine what the next color of arrow shaft the company will use for NASP. The Easton NASP arrow is the only one authorized for use in NASP. As measured by student support the current selection of gold, blue, and green arrows will be joined by purple this school year. Having different colored shafts helps students identify and score their arrows when multiple students shoot the same target.
Dale Morrell, of Morrell Targets, a platinum medal level sponsor and maker of one of only three target brands approved for use in NASP (Morrell, Rinehart, and Block), shared that their targets will be beefed up to increase their already durable and very popular school target.
One of the conference highlights was recognition of NASP efforts that were above the norm. Texas, Kentucky and Mississippi were honored for increasing the number of schools in their programs with increases of 138, 130, and 97 respectively. In fact, Texas is the number one state in NASP with 1,090 schools. South Africa grew the most in the past year by adding 90% more schools. Louisiana was second with 35% and Mississippi a close 3rd expanding with 34% more schools. The following states were awarded “Century” plaques for reaching another 100 level of schools: Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, and Utah.
Tim Strickland, NASP technical consultant and coach of past Olympians, announced a new series of “Beyond NASP” clinics. The clinics were launched this summer to meet teacher and coach requests to aid their students in becoming better archers. The clinic agenda spends ample time to ensure coaches understand how to teach the Eleven Steps to Archery Success which cover proper form, shot execution, and follow through. Tim added that there are many myths about archery shooting, many of which prevent success and longevity in archery.
In other exciting NASP news, Rinehart Targets’, Tanja Washburn advised that their Rinehart R100 (R100 Mega 3D Shoots) will be expanding to even more locations. Finally, Matthews Archery (the largest medal level sponsor to NASP) has created a new bow called the GenX. This new bow will look and feel familiar to student archers, and be a great “next bow”, but will not be approved for use in NASP tournaments or school lessons.
For greatest impact the star of this year’s conference was student archer, Jackson Ratliff from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Jackson overcomes a challenge presented by cerebral palsy to excel in NASP archery. Jackson, accompanied by his parents, described how he uses a mouth tab to draw and release the bowstring.
Jackson told the group, “NASP has been very important to me as it has provided me with a second “archery family” and a best friend for life.”
As at every conference, it was inspiring to hear from various program coordinators about how they are including an ever-growing number of students in archery. The “2016 NASP Conference Coordinator Conference” is planned for early August 2016.
About National Archery in the Schools Program
The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) promotes student education, physical education and participation in the lifelong sport of Archery. The mission of NASP is to promote international-style target archery as part of the in-school curriculum, to improve educational performance and participation in the shooting sports among students in grades 4-12.
For more information, please visit www.NASPSchools.org.