Walker, Mo. – A 300 score by a youthful archer is perfect, and now the Northeast Vernon County Elementary School and High School have pushed the Missouri National Archery in Schools Program (MoNASP) past that mark.
The MoNASP target archery program began in Missouri in 2007 with 20 schools. Northeast Vernon County Elementary School recently became the 300th school in the program, and the district’s high school in the rural town of Walker became 301.
“It’s an easy program for schools to do,” said Eric Edwards, education outreach coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). “It’s especially nice for the rural schools that perhaps don’t have enough enrollments for a baseball team or a football team. It’s something that connects students and connects the school to the community.”
MoNASP is a target archery program with training and competition for a wide range of participants at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. At competitions, archery teams are divided by ages. School teams must include both male and female archers. But genders are separate for individual high scores. The state contest early in 2013 drew more than 1,500 competitors.
But before competition, simply learning to shoot target archery with standardized, easy-to-use equipment is fun for students. The skills are simple but also teach patience, confidence and safety.
MDC sponsors MoNASP programs in schools along with the Conservation Federation of Missouri and many other conservation partners. The Northeast Vernon County Elementary School received a $500 grant for startup equipment. Bows are simple, compound bows the draw weights easy for students to pull. With standardized equipment for all, skill alone determines success. School teachers and volunteers service as coaches. Procedures on the target ranges emphasize safety.
Kendall Ogburn will be the coach for Northeast Vernon Elementary’s MoNASP team, Edwards said. Chris Hudson will coach the high school team.
MoNASP has grown statewide because young people are taking a greater interest in archery, he said, and simply because participants have enjoyed the sport. Hollywood has also helped by featuring archers in popular movies.
“Kids in MoNASP talk to students at other schools,” Edwards said, “and the excitement about archery spreads.”