Dolores Elementary School has expanded its archery program to include fourth grade students, and fifth grade students plan to enter a tournament this month.
The National Archery in Schools Program partners with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which provided a $3,000 grant for compound bows and targets the elementary. The school matches the amount, and CPW helps pay for replacement bows.
The sport has taken off at Dolores Elementary, said physical education instructor Brooke Elder.
“The kids are so excited about it. What makes the sport special is a student does not have to be very athletic to excel,” she said. “Students tell me they never considered themselves an athlete until they learned archery.”
Students study 11 steps to archery success and memorize safety measures, then hit the target range.
Arrows fly toward targets in the gymnasium, with most hitting the target.
“I enjoy the sport, it takes intense concentration,” said Bodhi, a fifth grader.
“The key to an accurate shot is to aim carefully and keep the bow up during the follow through,” said student Hunter Buchanan.
The concentration and focus needed for archery improves student behavior, Elder said.
“Kids have a lot of energy, and you can seem them harnessing that. It is great for self-control,” she said. “Archery is a real mental and practice-related sport. The bookworms become good at it, and say ‘Wow, I have a sport now!’”
Fifth grade students began keeping score this month in anticipation for the statewide virtual tournament put on by the National Archery in Schools Program and CPW.
Students will participate in the tournament at their schools and compete with archers from across the state, with an opportunity to qualify for the national NASP tournament. Scoring will be individual and by team.
CPW spokesman Joe Lewandowski said archery is a good outdoor skill for kids to learn.
“Archery is good, clean fun, and is a hobby well adapted to rural areas,” he said. “The goal is to encourage outdoor activity.”
Safe ranges are easy to set up in a backyard, or practice with precautions is convenient in the backyard national forest of Dolores, he said. Learning archery opens up hunting opportunity for kids, and directs them to earn a hunter safety card that provides further outdoor education.
Elder has her eye on expanding her student outdoor skill set and is in the planning stages for a climbing wall at the school.