by Jerrie Miller
As part of The Salvation Army Outdoor (TSAO) initiative, the Central Territory has been partnering with the Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) and National Archery in Schools Program (NASP®) for several years to provide archery equipment for camps throughout the territory. A concentrated effort has been made to make this sport available to young people coming to our camps by offering support, equipment and staff training.
To ensure safety and proper instruction, leaders are trained and certified to present NASP® lessons that are safe for children, instructors, bystanders and facilities. Leaders learn to set up and operate a safe archery range in their gymnasiums. Currently, there are 160 trained leaders at 11camps and six corps.
This summer thousands of young people have taken aim with many finding they enjoy the sport and want to learn more. Beginning this fall, young people who want to take it to the next level may have that opportunity.
Community-based archery clubs are being formed in corps throughout several divisions. These clubs provide opportunities for members of a local group to compete against other clubs in their area.
As the clubs develop and interest in the sport grows, the territorial youth department plans to develop a structure to support divisional and territorial competitions. An online database is being developed to allow corps, camps and divisions to record individual and team scores. The scores will be used to determine top competitors and top clubs which will have the opportunity to advance to the next level of competition. The ultimate goal is to host a territorial competition where teams compete to become the territorial champions.
Major Monty Wandling, territorial youth secretary, said, “The nice thing about archery is that it provides an opportunity for people of all ages, sizes, athletic abilities and physical capabilities to participate in an exciting and fun sport. Kids who may not be the best basketball player or cross- country runner can still compete.”
Archery also helps to create a framework for building assets in areas such as support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, and constructive use of time. It is very empowering for a young person when they hit the target. Participation requires careful attention to the rules and focus on the mechanics of success.
By working together, team members develop a strong sense of community. This makes the clubs an effective means of outreach for attracting new members to other corps programs. Clubs can be used as a means to expand and enhance day camp, afterschool and youth programs.
The opportunity for spiritual development should not be overlooked. Centershot Ministries offers a spiritual component based on the NASP® model. This curriculum works alongside practical skills and principles learned in community-based archery to provide an ideal means of evangelism.
For more information, log on to www.CentralYouthNetwork.com or contact your divisional youth secretary.