Author: Cassie Scott
The Archery Trade Association’s educational programs teach attendees across the country how to engage new archers and expand bowhunting and archery participation. These programs include “Archery Academy,” “Explore Bowhunting,” “Explore Archery” and “Explore Bowfishing.” Each program helps communities expand recreational opportunities for everyone, no matter their age, gender or fitness level.
Kelly Modla, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officer at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Soldotna, Alaska, learned that firsthand by participating in “Archery as an Outreach Tool” at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in March 2014.
The ATA taught its Archery Academy during the program. The course covered all types of equipment and basic archery-instruction techniques. Attendees learned how to teach an introductory archery class, and focused on how to use beginner archery lessons to develop more advanced archery and bowhunting skills.
Upon completing the course, Modla described it as “a fun archery class with hands-on learning taught by knowledgeable instructors who shared their personal experiences.” Since then, Modla regularly uses that training to boost interest and archery participation throughout Alaska.
Kelly Modla uses her USA Archery Level 2 instructor training to boost interest and archery participation throughout Alaska. Photo Credit: Lisa Demer
For instance, she taught kids’ archery at the April 2014 Youth Game Warden Camp at the Kenai Refuge. Then she used archery as a teaching tool while visiting kids in King Cove on the Alaska Peninsula. She also gave lessons to adults and children in Kwethluk, a village in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, as part of a village-by-village effort to build relationships.
The article “Archery camps aim to build relationships between wildlife officers, Kuskokwim villages,” appeared on Adn.com. It examines Modla’s role in Kwethluk, and explains how her archery mini-camps strengthen relationships between wildlife managers in Alaska’s national refuges and residents of the region who depend on fish and wildlife.
Modla loves teaching archery because everyone can participate. “It allows kids to learn a skill that they will take with them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “And if it interests them, they can pursue it competitively, try bowhunting, or continue just for fun.”
Before taking the “Archery as an Outreach Tool” training, Modla had her own bow, but never taught archery to children. She earned her Level 2 archery instructor certification (as recognized by USA Archery and the National Field Archery Association) during the three-day program, so she can teach students, and train and recruit other instructors.
Armed with those credentials, Modla took her archery equipment to over a dozen Alaska villages. Archery helps her interact in a fun, meaningful way with students.
Kelly Modla conducts archery mini-camps to strengthen relationships between wildlife managers in Alaska’s national refuges and residents of the region who depend on fish and wildlife. Photo Credit: Lisa Demer
Modla isn’t the only one promoting archery in Alaska. The Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage is also working to increase the number of schools in the National Archery in the Schools Program.
Kirk Lingofelt, Alaska’s NASP coordinator, said the state has added 15 to 20 schools annually in NASP since 2012. As 2016 ends, Lingofelt reported 175 schools in the program, with over 6,000 students completing the course.
Archery is popular because of its inclusivity. Modla said it brings people together by leveling “the playing field” so anyone can participate. One of her students with a physical disability helped prove that point.
“Two other officers and I tried repeatedly to get him to try,” Modla said. “On my last approach, he got himself up, and that was it. With little assistance, he was shooting arrows and hitting the target. He was so proud of himself.”
Modla said it was a cool experience, and she finds most of her archery encounters rewarding.
“Archery has been a great addition to the kids’ Game Warden/Wildlife Officer Camps,” Modla said. “All the kids are interested and engaged in the archery activities. They’re excited and encouraging while shooting their bows and arrows. It’s a hands-on, meaningful activity that’s a lot of fun. We’ll continue to use it.”
Kelly Modla has conducted archery lessons in over 12 Alaska villages as part of a village-by-village effort to build relationships. Photo Credit: Lisa Demer
Educators interested in teaching archery can receive complete curriculum packets by attending an ATA outreach event or workshop. To learn more, contact your state wildlife agency or contact Josh Gold, ATA’s Education Programs Manager.
To learn more about ATA’s outreach programs and curriculum, click here.