There’s nothing quite like the sound of a loosed arrow whistling through the air and hitting its target: Thwish-Thunk! If you listen closely enough, you may be able to hear students all around West Virginia taking aim as they prepare for the state’s 12th annual Archery in the Schools tournament on March 25.

The tournament is the culmination of the Archery in the Schools program, which is an alternative to traditional physical education that can be enjoyed by both boys and girls, regardless of athletic ability. In West Virginia, Archery in the Schools is one of the most popular educational programs, and has reached more than 100,000 students from 300 schools since starting about 14 years ago.

The program involves Olympic-style archery, and uses a standardized curriculum that teaches students how to shoot stationary targets. The techniques students learn are quite different from those used in bow hunting. While the two styles differ, both require a great deal of patience, determination and finesse.


Archery students line up their shots.

Many students in West Virginia participate in the program, but some form teams and go on to represent their school in a series of tournaments this time of year. While the sport can be competitive, it has no limiting factors and provides a safe and inviting environment for all kids to learn a valuable life skill.

Here are a few benefits of the program:

It’s Safe

To participate in the program, a school must have a trained instructor and approved equipment. That means students are always under the supervision of a trained adult and have access to tested and proven bows, arrows and other material. Combined with the proper technique and discipline students are taught, the archery program is a safe and fun alternative to traditional school-offered sports.

It’s Inclusive

Not every kid enjoys or can participate in team sports, like basketball, football or soccer. Archery, however, is appealing to boys and girls, and accommodating for those with disabilities, making it one of the most inclusive sports, great for learning team-building skills. The program and equipment also are standardized, which means all schools and students participate on a level playing field.

It’s Useful

How does learning to shoot a bow and arrow help a student later in life? By teaching them how to focus, be disciplined and respect others. Practicing and competing in a team environment provides valuable experience that can be used later in life. And who knows — maybe they’ll go on to compete professionally in the Olympics. Regardless, the skills learned in archery can be applied in any field.

There are many other positives of the Archery in the Schools program. For one, it’s fun! As the program grows in popularity, more students will benefit from this rewarding sport.

Mark Your Calendar!

The 2017 West Virginia Archery in the Schools state tournament is March 25, 2017. The tournament will bring hundreds of students to the Charleston Civic Center, where they’ll compete for a first-place spot. Everyone is a winner though, as the tournament is fun and exciting for all who attend.

School teams that want to participate must first qualify by entering and making it through the state’s virtual archery tournament.

For more information about the tournament, how to purchase tickets and who will participate, click HERE.