HELENA — Kids with bows and arrows might look out of place at school, but that actually takes place in classrooms all across the state, and their aim is to not only teach archery skills but life skills.
The National Archery in Schools Program partners with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks who provide some of the equipment and archery training to teachers across Montana.
So far, at least at Helena High, it’s making an impact.
“I think it’s very interesting because, you have your kids that don’t really want to be into sports as much, but they would like to do outdoor activities," said Helena High teacher Shelbi Kusler. "So it gives those kids that are a little bit outside the box the opportunity to do outdoor recreation and hopefully it opens some doors for those kids that don’t do outdoor recreation already, but it gets them engaged in being able to do different sports and activities.”
Now, if you’re thinking that giving students bows and arrows in class could be a problem, safety is their top priority.
“We definitely breakdown everything, so we start with string bows and we don’t ever make anybody do it if they don’t want to," Kusler told MTN. "We want them all to feel safe, so we go through everything from string-bow to just the bow, no arrow. We definitely practice safety over everything. So haven’t had any problems, they’ve all had a lot of fun.”
“There is a lot behind it and our teacher is really helping other people out so they know what they are doing. I think if they every want to hunt in the future it’s helpful but there is definitely more they can learn," Helena High sophomore Lyla Ackerman said. "I also think they are taking away how to have safety with archery.”
Even if after this class the students never pick up a bow and arrow again, they are leaving with a learned skill.
“Probably the patience part and, like, to take a deep breath before you shoot and let go,” Sophmore Evelynn Nielson told us.
“I think that it gives them a really good opportunity to really think about patience and being able to use their breathing techniques and other things outside of just sports and activities, it’s more of a mental game than anything so patience is definitely key,” added Kusler.