Legislators, MDC, Bass Pro, and others honor archery as Missouri's state sport

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A long history of popularity – both as a hunting activity and as a target-shooting pastime – has earned archery special legislative designation in Missouri.

On Monday, Aug. 8, members of Missouri’s legislature joined staff from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, the Archery Trade Association (ATA), and a number of young archers from across southwest Missouri to recognize archery’s designation as Missouri’s official state sport. A brief ceremony was held at the Archery Hall of Fame and Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield.

“Anyone can participate at any level, regardless of age, size, or physical ability,” said Missouri Rep. Tim Taylor (R-District 48) who introduced this initiative earlier this year. As a lifelong bowhunter, long-time archery instructor for Cooper County’s 4-H program, and an instructor for the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP), Taylor comes by his love for archery naturally.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Parson and the Missouri General Assembly’s support for recognizing archery as the Official Sport of Missouri,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “A sincere thank you to Representative Tim Taylor for introducing the bill and for his support and interest in conservation and archery.”

Missouri has a significant connection to bowhunting and the archery industry. One of Missouri’s most significant ties to archery – the compound bow – is a Show-Me state connection to the sport that is well-documented, but is somewhat forgotten. Missourian Holless Wilbur Allen, Jr., who lived in Kansas City and later in Billings, took a bow that had experienced little design change for thousands of years and, by adding pulleys and extra cables to the limbs of the bow, created a type of bow that revolutionized the archery industry throughout the world. Allen received a patent for his compound bow in 1966. He then collaborated with bowmaker Tom Jennings to mass produce the compound bow – the type of bow that’s most popular with today’s archery hunters and target shooters.

Another highlight of Missouri’s archery tradition is the Hoyt Archery Company that started in 1931 in St. Louis. The business earned a reputation for building high-quality cedar arrows and remarkably straight-shooting stickbows. Earl Hoyt Jr. was an engineer who turned his skills into a business built around archery and bowhunting. Innovations that emerged from the partnership can be found in today’s high-tech compound bows. Hoyt’s Pro Medalist bows dominated the scene in four Olympic Games and were adopted by archers from many foreign countries, as well. In 1977, Earl Hoyt Jr. received the National Archery Association’s highest award – the Thompson Medal of Honor.

MoNASP is another sign of archery’s popularity in the Show-Me State. MoNASP is coordinated through the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Conservation Federation of Missouri in partnership with participating schools and numerous supporting organizations throughout the state. Since it began in Missouri in 2007, MoNASP has been introduced to 960 Missouri schools. MoNASP is an affiliate of NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) and promotes education, self-esteem, and physical activity for students in grades 4-12 through participation in the sport of archery.

And last, but certainly not least, archery hunting is also a popular pastime in Missouri. Missouri’s first archery season was held in 1946 in Crawford County. A total of 88 archers participated in the three-day hunt. Since that time, the sport has grown in Missouri. Today, there are more than 202,000 archers participating in the fall tradition of bowhunting; harvesting nearly 60,000 deer annually.

“Archery has a long, rich history, said Dan Forster, ATA vice president and chief conservation officer. “Missouri’s recognition of archery as the state’s official sport pays appropriate tribute to all those before us and to the hundreds of thousands of active bowhunters and target archers in the Show-Me State who participate in and advance this timeless and shared passion."