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Archery added to Southland

By John Weiss

The Post-Bulletin

ADAMS — Southland High School has joined a small list of schools in the region that have added Archery in the Schools, a program sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

There are about 150 school districts with the program, including about 10 in this region.

Over the past few weeks, about 60 sophomores in Jeffrey Galle’s class learned the basics of safety, and how to hold a bow and shoot.

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Blythe Navarro said he shot a bow last summer and hopes to shoot when the class is done. "I thought it was actually kind of fun," he said. "It was fun to play around with my friends, see who could shoot better."

He likes the program because it adds something new to physical education.

That’s exactly why Galle said he applied for a $1,500 DNR grant, with the local Parents Teachers Organization raising another $1,500.

The DNR provides half the cost of the program, which is now about $3,000, and the local community pays the rest. The DNR got part of its money from the National Wild Turkey Federation. Galle started the program after he saw a need to expand traditional class offerings past sports like basketball and softball.

It’s hard to play football or basketball after you leave school because you need enough people to play with. But sports like archery and golf can be played throughout your life.

The emphasis in physical education has changed to teaching lifelong sports, including archery.

The state program began in the spring of 2003 with 25 schools. It worked, and the DNR program expanded. Minnesota borrowed the idea, which Kentucky pioneered as a way to introduce students to archery sports.

About 60,000 students in 150 Minnesota school districts were shooting 20-pound bows this year, according to Kraig Kiger, DNR shooting sports coordinator.

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"Outdoor recreation is a big part of what we do in the DNR," he said. "We came across the Archery in the Schools program. The rest is history."

In this region, those involved in the program include Plainview-Elgin-Millville, St. Charles, Rochester, Wabasha-Kellogg, Lake City, Kasson-Mantorville, Triton, Spring Valley and, more recently, Southland.

How well the program succeeds won’t be known for several years. If Galle learns that his students are still shooting, or golfing, or getting any outdoor exercise, he will believe that he succeeded.

Not everyone has to hit the bullseye to win, he said. But it’s sure fun for the students.

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