Students on target for success

BOWS AND ARROWS can be one method of encouraging students in grades 4-12 to stay interested in all aspect of their student careers of learning. How is that possible? Well, this sport involves a lot more than just the recreational aspects of learning how archery equipment works. Archery engages students of all levels and abilities, mental and physical, to participate and succeed. Mental concentration is paramount to allow arrows to hit the yellow ten ring of an international style tournament target. School gyms are easily transformed into a must-do alternative to basketball, volleyball, wrestling or other sports. Students who have participated, or are now involved in NASP, want to keep at this interesting sport. And one of the best parts is that everyone, and I mean every student, can participate.

Unlike basketball, football, volleyball, swimming, tennis, hockey, or other team sports, archers do not have a second or third string of bench warmers who only wish they could play. The very nature of these sports means the coaches have to sort out who has the right stuff for that sport. Many with potential can be brought up the learning ladder to become part of the starters. But not everyone can or wants to play these sports for various reasons.

Archery is different. Right from the start, all student archers are in the game, enjoying the workouts, learning self discipline, team support and having fun. National archery in the schools activities are typically a two week long option. If there is enough interest, many schools form after school leagues whereby they can continue to practice the ancient art of bows and arrows.

NASP is a joint venture between state Departments of Education and Wildlife. Archery manufacturers and organizations are also partners. From DNR’s point of view, archery in the schools is a way to encourage activity in one of the shooting sports and at the same time provide support for wildlife conservation. Since its inception in 2002, NASP has more than 4 million students in over 5,000 schools located in 49 states and five countries. Some of these student archers will like it enough to make it a life long hobby.

The young archers in the 12th grade will be eligible to compete for college money. The highest scoring boy and girl during the bullseye tournament will each receive a $1,500 scholarship. Runners-up will each get $1,000 for future college. At the 3-D target course, top boy and girl winners will take home college money in the amount of $1,000, and runners up will get $500. Scholarship funds are provided by the Iowa Bowhunters Association, Whitetails Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, Iowa State Archery Association, Safari Club International and the National Archery in the Schools Program.

In Iowa, way before NASP was offered, archery had its dedicated people who went on to make international acclaim and win big awards. One such person was the late Doreen Wilber of Jefferson, Iowa. At the age of 42, she won the women’s Olympic Gold Medal in Archery in 1972. She also won numerous medals as an individual on the US team in the Outdoor World Championships.

Today we have a number of new archers on the national and international scene. Miranda Leek of West Des Moines made the 2014 Senior United States Archery Team. Using a recurve bow, she is the current women’s recurve National Indoor and Outdoor Champion. Bridger Deaton in a member of the men’s compound bow archery team. He placed silver in Wuix, China at the 2013 World Archery Youth Championships. And Matt Stutzman of Fairfield, Iowa won the silver in the men’s compound open class at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He joined the United States Archery Team in 2014. And if you didn’t know, Stutzman was born without arms. He holds his bow in his right foot, pushes his leg out to draw the bow using a special back brace and harness, aims carefully, and with subtle back pressure releases the arrow. I’ve personally seen his demonstrations of arrow accuracy which is top-of-the-line precision.

Matt will be at Des Moines during the NASP tournament to demonstrate his skills before the young audience of school kids. Matt is an inspirational speaker of top quality. His sense of humor is engaging as he tells people of all ages how life can throw you a curve ball, and you can overcome those obstacles and still make home runs.

NASP is coordinated in Iowa through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Training for teachers and team leaders as basic archery instructors is DNR provided. There is no cost to the teachers for NASP as part of an in school course. Donise Peterson, Shooting Sports Outreach Coordinator, is the contact person at or via phone by calling 515-205-8709.

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IZAAK WALTON LEAGUE scholarships are available locally to seniors in any school district within Marshall County as long as the student resides in Marshall County. In this instance, the student must show a distinct preference for a college level of study related to conservation or the environment. Applicants must demonstrate that intent on the application submittal. If awarded, a $1,000 award will be made directly to the school of the recipient’s choice on a quarterly, semester, or annual basis. The details of the application for a scholarship can be obtained from the Izaak Walton League by writing to them in care of P.O. Box 327, Marshalltown, Iowa 50158. The deadline for submittals is March 15 or before, not after, so be prompt and detailed in answering the applications questions. In addition to the normal who are you questions, a 250 word or less description of the applicant’s career ambitions and desired fields of study must be attached. Full details are in the two-page application form.

The Izaak Walton League is a conservation organization dedicated toward natural resource stewardship causes. Their pledge reads as follows: To strive for the purity of water, the clarity of air,and the wise stewardship of the land and its resources; to know the beauty and understanding of nature and the value of wildlife, woodlands and open spaces; to the preservation of this heritage and to man’s sharing in it.

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Things to remember: First, the CHICKADEE CHECKOFF on your Iowa income tax returns is a good cause. I urge you to give generously to this cause for non-game wildlife and natural resource protection.

Second, tonight is the WHITETAILS UNLIMITED banquet at Marshalltown’s KC Hall. Doors are open at 4:30 p.m., with prime rib dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Third, Feb. 24, next Wednesday night from 6-9 p.m., is the informational time and opportunity to comment on proposed seasons for wildlife during the fall of 2016. The steps required to implement the paperwork is important before seasons can be set or modified. Hunters and trappers who deeply care about these wildlife management aspects need to pay attention, get involved and attend. The place will be the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) room at Marshalltown’s Community College for this area of central Iowa.

Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.