By Casey Smith, Naturalist I first taught with bows and arrows when I was working at an education center on Saint Simons Island, Georgia. The class used the evolution of Native American hunting tools to teach about the history of the Native Americans in that area. Students would line up and each try using a different primitive tool, going from a heavy spear, to a lighter spear, to an atlatl, and eventually a bow and arrow. The bow was very primitive, but I still loved it. I taught my first real archery class more than 11 years ago when working for Columbus Recreation and Parks. We taught with compound bows and shot at real targets. I. WAS. HOOKED. There’s nothing better than the feeling of consistently hitting the exact spot you are aiming for. I eventually gained certifications from the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and from USA Archery (the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of archery). It wasn’t long before I had my own equipment so I could practice in my back yard.
Archery dates back 20,000 years, and has been used by Egyptians, Japanese, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Native Americans, and other groups throughout history. Archery is famous in mythology and folklore. It has been used for war and for sport. Today, archery is mainly used for hunting, and for recreational and competitive sport. There are many health benefits to participating in archery including strength building in the arms, core, hands, chest, and shoulders, improved hand-eye coordination, increased focus, improved confidence, and relaxation. Along with the physical benefits, many schools and organizations offer college scholarships for archery. It is even an Olympic sport.
Preservation Parks recently received new archery equipment through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. We will begin offering archery programs in the spring: one-time classes for those looking to try out this ancient sport, and classes where participants will return for a series of four weeks in hopes of improving their skills. Keep an eye out for this exciting new addition to our already amazing list of programs.