After two years of not having an in-person state Archery in the Schools tournament to look forward to, students in West Virginia finally have something to be excited about.
The state Archery in the Schools program, which returned to in-person competition this year, is back and more popular than it was before the pandemic.
“The pandemic didn’t slow the program down. Even with schools out, kids were in their backyards with their bows, trying to get together with friends, and practicing. They didn’t let their skills dull because they knew the tournament would be back,” said Chris Scraggs, Archery in the Schools program coordinator.
The WVDNR oversees the Archery in the Schools program, which is present in more than 300 schools and open to public, private and homeschool students in grades 4 through 12.
As in-person competition returned in 2022, the WVDNR has seen an increase in schools wanting to participate. This year, 600 students competed in the state tournament and 1,500 participated in qualifier rounds.
Photos from the 2022 West Virginia Archery in the Schools State Tournament
A fun and inclusive alternative to traditional sports
Competition archery is quite different from hunting. The Archery in the Schools program, which meets state and national standards for physical education, requires schools to have a trained instructor and use approved equipment that meets rigorous safety standards. While there is a competitive element to the program, all schools and students participate on a level playing field.
Part of the reason Archery in the Schools is growing in popularity in schools across West Virginia is because the program provides students, who may not be interested in traditional team sports, with a fun and inclusive environment where they can be active, make friends and learn how to work in a team environment.
“What’s great about the program is that you can be athletic, you can be a hunter, you can even use bows your entire life, but none of that gives you an advantage when you’re out on the range,” said Scraggs. “Knowing that you can pull off a shot and hit the bullseye every time is an amazing confidence booster for these kids and that’s the most important skill of all — learning to have self confidence. I wish more kids would do this.”
For more information about Archery in the Schools, visit wvdnr.gov/west-virginia-archery-in-the-schools-program. To attend a training course, contact Chris Scraggs via email at Chris.G.Scraggs@wv.gov.