On Wednesday, the arrows will be flying in the Cox Convention Center for the annual Archery in the Schools state shoot.
Archery in the Schools – a national program where archery is taught in physical education classes across the country – continues to grow in popularity in Oklahoma.
It started six years ago in eight pilot schools in the state. The first state meet had 100 shooters at the University of Central Oklahoma fieldhouse.
Archery is now taught in 225 schools in Oklahoma through the program administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Of those, 120 schools are bringing 1,787 students to the Cox Convention Center on Wednesday for the state meet.
In the Oklahoma City area, 25 schools are teaching archery in elementary, middle school and high schools in physical education classes.
Among them are public schools in Bethany, Edmond, Moore, Yukon, Western Heights, Putnam City and Mustang along with several private schools.
Every physical education instructor who sings the praises of the program say the same thing. It gives kids who are not as gifted athletically or at risk students a sense of belonging, pride and self-confidence.
“The popularity of the program is due to the fact that it is set-up so students experience success,” said Colin Berg of the state Wildlife Department. “It often reaches students who are not involved in any other school activity.”
Archery in the Schools has grown every year in Oklahoma despite shrinking school budgets.
It takes anywhere from $2,800 to $3,300 to buy the bows, arrows, targets and other equipment necessary to teach archery.
The state Wildlife Department covers about half of the cost and the school has to find money to pay for the other half.
The state Wildlife Department annually distributes about $50,000 in grant money for schools, Berg said.
“That is enough money to get 30 new schools going each year,” he said. “However, the program grew by 45 schools this last year. Some schools offer the program as a two-week unit, some more.”
Top individual shooters and top teams at Wednesday’s state meet qualify for the National Archery in the Schools Tournament in Kentucky. Last year two Oklahoma students were crowned national champions.
The shooting begins at the Cox Convention Center with the first flight at 8:45 a.m.
A new flight of 260 new shooters starts every hour. It culminates with a shoot-off of the top individual scorers at 4:30 p.m.