Archery in the Schools program is a hit

Sarah Werner of St. Joseph, Wis, prepares to shoot Friday at the National Archery in the Schools Program shoot at the Pope and Young biennial convention in Rochester.

With whops and oops, a long line of blue-shirted archers shot their three arrows at 3-D bear, deer and antelope targets Friday.

Some arrows hit home. Hence the whoops.

Most missed. Hence the oops.

Students from schools in St. Joseph, Wis. and Mound eagerly ran to retrieve their arrows at the Pope and Young Club convention shoot, no matter if they were dead center or lying on the floor behind the targets. Then they waited their chance to shoot again.

This wasn't a competition. It was more of an exhibition, a fun shoot that gave about 200 young archers a chance to shoot at 3-D targets. It also was a chance for the Pope and Young Club and  and the National Archery in Schools Program to get to know each other. The program teaches about 9 million students, grades four through 12, basic archery skills.


One of the shooters for the Stratford Sharpshooters from St. Joseph was Derek Slominski, 12, who has been shooting for two years. "I thought it was kind of interesting," he said. "At first, it was a little tough, but it gets easier the more you do it," he said.

He shot well in Rochester, which is about a three-hour drive from St. Joseph Elementary School.  Eventually, he might like to hunt with a bow and arrow, or just keep shooting for fun, he said.

His advice to other students: "You should try it, it's fun. You can do it pretty much anywhere."

Watching was Kraig Kiger, who heads the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources's shooting sports program that includes the National Archery in the Schools Program.  Minnesota has about 160,000 shooters in 371 out of the state's 2,700 schools, he said. The program is for those in grades four through 12.

"It just keeps growing every year, little by little," he said.

Archery is becoming more popular in schools because the students love shooting — and because of DNR grants that pays  half the cost of buying adjustable compound bows and  arrows. It's meant to be a lifetime sport and could have three good outcomes: students shoot for fun, shoot for competition or become hunters, he said.

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