HELENA — School is out for the summer for most kids in Montana, but the National Archery in Schools Program is staying on target.
“I think it’s something that’s safe and fun and everyone who participates in the program loves it," said Ryan Schmaltz with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, who also coordinates NASP programs in Montana.
Part of Schmaltz's job is teaching the school educators and program volunteers safe archery practices and help promote the sport to kids that might not have an opportunity to shoot anywhere else.
“By being involved in this program the kids are excited to get outdoors, they’re excited about shooting sports and it’s something they’re aware of and appreciate and make part of their lives and the people around them,” said Schmaltz.
And it seems to be working. According to the NASP, the program was responsible for more than18 million students in more than 14,000 schools worldwide learning the sport of archery.
The benefits go past the shooting range.
“The national program has taken a look at kids and surveyed them and found that this program has actually helped with their attendance because they came to school when they were shooting and it also helped with their grades because it showed them something new that they learned and could be successful at and helped them with other things in their life too and their confidence,” said Schmaltz.
Another byproduct of the program is hopefully introducing kids to the outdoors. So, even if archery isn’t something a student pursues after the program, maybe shooting a bow and getting a hands-on introduction opens the door to a broader interest in camping, hiking or conservation.
For more information on how you can get involved, you can reach Ryan Schmaltz at 406-444-9946 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.