As of July 2001 I joined the ranks of the Retired, I didn’t plan it that way but it happened.  I was not and am not ready to sit back and watch the grass grow.  So I thought, “I’m a NAA Level ll Instructor, I really enjoy archery (most of the time) what are the possibilities of starting an Archery Program here it Fort Worth?”  As a result, I contacted several schools and other organizations I thought might be interested;  generally the responses ranged from “Not at this time.” to “No”.  The exception was Ft Worth Parks and Community Services; I am presently working with them to see if there is sufficient local interest to establish a program.  End of Preface – On to the Be Careful What You Wish For part.

 

In late April Rick forwarded an email to me.  It was a request for help in locating someone who would be willing and able to conduct an archery activity for a group of 4th Graders at the Clear Creek Intermediate School, Sanger, TX (approx. 60 miles North of Ft Worth).  For several previous years one of the student’s parents had conducted this activity but the student was now in Middle School and the resource gone.  I contacted the teacher and set up a meeting to discuss their requirements.  LET THE FUN BEGIN.

 

At the first meeting I was informed that there are 150 – 160 4th Graders at the Clear Creek Intermediate School.  In the past they have all attended the Archery Activity in one, repeat ONE, day.  Each child shot 2 or 3 arrows, end of story.  To me this was not an Archery Activity; it was an assembly line.  I proposed an Archery Activity consisting of 8, one-hour sessions, 2 each day for four days.  Each child would have the opportunity to shoot two 6 arrow ends and receive a Certificate of Participation at the end of the activity.  The teachers thought that this was a wonderful idea. 

 

In order to prepare for this I had to build target stands, ground quiver-bow holders, get at least six bows into shootable condition, buy bow strings, armguards, string mounted finger guards, sort out about 4 dozen arrows, design & have the Certificate of Participation printed and last but not least get some 80 cm target faces. 

 

During the second meeting I was asked if I could accommodate 11 children who were to some degree either mentally and/or physically challenged?  My reply was that I would do my best.  

 

DAY 1 – When my wife, Colleen, and I arrived at the school the wind was gusting to about 15 mph and the baseball backstop we were planning to hang the arrow catching tarp from was in the wrong place; such is life in the big city.  Two hours later everything was set up and ready for the first group of novice archers.

 

Session 1 was the group of challenged children (nothing like starting at the deep end of the pool).  After a short instruction about safety and shooting the Archery Activity began.  An hour later the kids returned to class ready to try archery again, each with their own personalized Certificate of Participation and most important of all – NO EXTRA HOLES IN THEIR BODIES.

 

Session 2 was very Ho-Hum with one major exception.  After my instruction period, my wife pointed out a girl standing in the back who was looking very uncomfortable at the prospect of trying to shoot a bow.  This girl, for whatever reason, did not have a right hand.  We overcame this problem by having my wife help load the arrows and then draw, anchor and release the string while the girl held the bow and signaled when to shoot.  She shot both ends, had several very nice shots and left the activity smiling.  Before the class left I told them about the archer (I can’t remember his name) who is confined to a wheelchair, shoots for the USA in the Special Olympics and shots using a mouthpiece attached to the bow string.  Then I demonstrated how he did it and I hit the target 2 out of 2 times – stop thinking what you are thinking.  I like the way I shoot just fine!!

 

With respect to the remaining sessions the only thing of note was the wind. 

DAY 2 - we arrived to find that the backstop with the tarp attached had been blown over.  With help from the school PE Instructor we got it upright and the wind promptly blew it down again.  I decided to leave it down and relocate the tarp.  

DAY 3 – wind gusts to 20+ mph, I had my wind velocity meter with me.  Decision time – cancel or relocate.  Cancellation was not really an option so we relocated behind the school, now the backstop was a brick wall.  As things turned out this was not a problem; the targets were close to the ground, ground sloped upwards to the wall and there was about 5 or 6 yards between the targets and the wall.

 

LESSONS LEARNED –

  1. When working with a group of youngsters, as we were, it is easier and less chaotic to pick up arrows yourself than to have the kids retrieve them.
  2. Keep your instructions short and to the point.  As my wife pointed out, not very gently, to me; I have a tendency to get carried away.  Kids want to shoot not listen to instructions.
  3. Don’t use standard target faces to start with.  Target faces promote “I’m better than you.”  A paper plate in the center of the bale more or less keeps things even.

 

In closing I want to thank my wife Colleen, Rick Stonebraker (Rick, note the spelling) and TSAA for the funds to pay for the printing of the Certificates of Participation and target faces, Jim Kruger for additional target faces and the Teacher’s Assistants from the Clear Creek Intermediate School.

 

Tim Humphrey

(click for larger image)