Blooming Prairie High School on target for archery program

Published 6:33 am Monday, January 25, 2010

A traditional gym class activity will soon return to the gyms of Blooming Prairie High School.

The school received new archery equipment through the National Archery in the Schools Program. The equipment will be used to teach archery in gym classes and in after school and summer activities.

“We’ve tried to do archery in physical education over the years, but the equipment was to the point where it wasn’t even safe to use anymore,” said Blooming Prairie health and physical education teacher Kevin Driessen. “It’s expensive to maintain it, and it’s just kind of fallen by the wayside over the years.”

However, Driessen said this program is different because the school is now equipped with new bows, arrows and targets to use in gym class. The equipment and the targets are made of a layered material designed to last. The program costs the school minimal money; however, Clark Hammer said schools need to express interest in the program.

“The school has to want to participate in the program,” said Hammer, a member of the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association in Albert Lea. “It’s nothing we can force on them. We’re there to help the DNR further this program.”

Casey Hatch, who is helping organize the program in Blooming Prairie, and Driessen, will volunteer to run the after school activities.

The equipment will be used for after school and summer programs that will likely be open to students outside Blooming Prairie High School, Hatch said. He added that such activities may be hosted by the Cedar River Archer’s Club in Lansing.

Hatch partnered with the Albert Lea chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunter’s Association and Mower County’s Habitat & Pheasants Forever to help raise the $1,600 to purchase the $3,100 worth of equipment. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources added $1,500, and Mathews Inc. sold the equipment for the program at half price.

The new equipment at the school includes 12 bows, five targets, bows, a bow rack and protective canvas to be used indoors.

Driessen said the contract for the program lasts 10 years, and he has to teach archery in gym class at least two weeks each school year.

The program is designed to appeal to students who aren’t involved in traditional sports or students who often get into trouble. Hatch said students in the program in other schools have shown improved grades and an increase in social activities after being involved in the program.

“It’s about doing something after school besides getting into trouble,” Hatch said, who is a member of the Cedar River Archer’s Club.

However, Hatch wanted to stress the program is open to any students. He also hopes the program will spread to other area schools.

Before Driessen can start teaching archery in his gym classes, he needs to complete an course to become a certified archery instructor. Hatch will also need to complete the course before he can participate in the after school activities.

Driessen needs to complete the training before he can begin using the equipment in class. He plans to complete the training in March.