By Scott Bidroski
If you popped into the gymnasiums at Gordon-Rushville Middle School or Gordon Elementary School during school hours, you may want to knock first.
Fourth - Eighth graders in the District have been honing their archery skills in their Physical Education classes and if you enter through the wrong door, you may find yourself in a tight spot.
I’m only kidding, the doors were marked very clearly to not be entered, and the fun was being had by all students involved under the watchful eyes of Mrs. Mary Thies and Mr. Chris Jones, the Physical Education Instructors at both schools.
The program, which runs in conjunction with the National Archery in the Schools Program, was brought to the District by the Nebraska Game & Parks Association who were looking for schools that were interested in adding an archery program.
Kayla McKay, with the Game & Parks, provided the training for Jones and Thies and they hit the ground running.
The students first had to learn about their tools, including the bow, string, targets and arrows.
Proper technique and safety were prioritized in the beginning with the students having to following whistle prompts and the 11 step process provided by the program.
The steps included: Stance, Nock, Draw Hand Set, Bow Hand Set, Pre-draw, Draw, Anchor, Aim, Shot Set-up, Release, and Follow Through.
According to their instructors, all students were excited to start. And while things were a bit rocky when it came to accuracy in the beginning, each student quickly improved.
“The setup of the program made it very easy for the kids to learn basic skills and focus on the foundation of good shooting skills,” said Jones.
“My 4th and 5th graders have done a great job with shooting. They all seemed to catch on fast to the 11 Steps and the whistle commands,” said Thies.
Things progressed from there for each class, as they moved into scoring targets and more advanced shooting.
But the skills and lessons learned by each child from the program were a nice change of pace from every day schedule.
“I like giving them the opportunity to try something new that could potentially spark a life long learning adventure for them,” said Thies.
“Kids spend little time outdoors with all the electronics available to them, archery can provide a different outlook on their free time. My goal is to get our kids engaged more in outdoor activities,” she added.
Jones reiterates the positive affects he saw in his classroom.
“I think that a unit like this gave the kids a different set of skills to focus on improving. Target archery isn’t about being the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but it rewards the kids that can focus on their skill set and when they put in the effort they improve,” said Jones.
Thies would like to send a special thank you to the GRPS Administration for letting her take a chance on this new curriculum.
“I am so lucky that our administration supports these types of activities,” said Thies.
“I am always looking for new and innovative ways to instruct my students,” she added.
It’s a no-brainer that the skills learned in these lessons are good for everyone involved; unless you happen to be a deer in Sheridan County.