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A donation by the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has made it possible to add archery to the physical education program at Moneta Elementary School and Staunton River Middle School.
The donation, funded in Virginia by the turkey federation’s Virginia organization, is under the national organization’s National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). According to material provided by Jerry Craig, a member of the turkey federation’s James River Chapter, the NASP is designed to teach the sport of archery, which promotes mental concentration and core strength physical fitness. It’s also a lifetime sport. Craig, who is now in his 50s, still bow hunts.
The kits consist of 12 bows, target arrows and targets. Craig said that the bows are youth bows with a 25-pound pull. Each school received complete equipment packages. The kits would cost $6,000, but the schools got them for free as a donation.
“My bow has four times the pull,” Craig said.
One important criteria for the donation is that there would be adults who would be willing to take the Wild Turkey Foundation’s training to become youth archery coaches. Ron Long, a physical education teacher at Staunton River, was willing to do that, as was Harry Dillard at Moneta. David Merritt, a parent, will volunteer at both schools as the archery program requires two trained adults.
Merritt has two boys at Moneta Elementary. He’s also an archery enthusiast who opened a 3-D archery range, the Spring Lake Archery Club, last year.
According to Merritt, Dillard will be using the archery program as part of the school’s gym class. Long will also incorporate archery into the middle school’s physical education program.
“It’s a fantastic program,” Merritt said.
Merritt said that he began bow hunting when he was 10. He’s 49 now.
“Archery, to me, it’s just a lifetime sport,” he said.
According to Craig, the NWTF got its start in Virginia in 1973 in Fredericksburg, The local chapter, the James River Chapter, has been involved in a number of activities. Just before Bedford’s Company A deployed to Iraq, the chapter provided a dinner for the soldiers and their families. Every year the chapter sponsors a trout fishing day for children and Wheeling Sportsmen, a program that gets wheel chair bound hunters into the woods for a wild turkey hunt. Craig said that last year the James River Chapter sponsored the biggest Wheeling Sportsmen hunt in Virginia.
For more information about the James River chapter, call Barry Arrington at 586-5919.