Young Archers On Screen And In Schools

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Young actors in the box office smash "The Hunger Games" had to learn archery in preparation for their roles.

Douglas Middle School students are also learning the sport of bows and arrows, but it's for their physical education class.

"At first, I was like, what's archery," seventh grade student Esmeralda Abellaneda said.

"And then I thought we were actually gonna be killing things, but it wasn't like that.  We have targets."

PE teacher Denise Baird learned about the National Archery in the Schools Program at the  Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance’s Fall Conference.

She and fellow instructor Brandon Lyles earned certification to teach the sport.

"We had some parents that were concerned to begin with," Baird said.

"But it's such a structured program that if they follow the rules, you don't have injuries."

The kids must first pass a test of the 11 steps to archery safety.

They don't get to pick up a bow until they know what they will do with it.

"They have a string that they practice with and once they can show us those steps and do it correctly then they progress on to actually getting to use the bow," Baird said.

"They just feel like it's a privilege to get to shoot. It gets rid of all discipline problems."

Putting weapons in the hands of children is frightening, but the instructors say they don't have any issues with bullying.

"You don't even kid about it, you don't mention it. It's not acceptable and then if they aren't able to shoot then they do another assignment," she said.

The teachers keep the boys and girls separate, but it is a sport with a level playing field regardless of gender, size, or strength.

"Children who are not your top athletes, that don't run the fastest or make the most shots in a basketball game or the strongest in football or whatever, it gives them an opportunity to be active," Baird said.

Some of the students already have experience with a bow and arrow.

Phillip Swack has his own equipment at home, and said the competition against friends in class has made him a better rabbit hunter.

"I usually use a trigger release but sometimes they actually fail," he said.

"Doing this actually trains me a whole lot better."