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GetIN Outdoors: Shoot Archery!

We are proud to present this web series, GetIN Outdoors. It’s a special 6-part series with the 2015 Ford Hoosier Outdoor Experience, a 2-day event {Sept 19-20} at Fort Harrison State Park that encourages families to try new outdoor activities together. Read the official announcement here and follow along with our blogger The Momista as her family previews some of the fun. Summer is the time to be GetIN Outdoors!

A few months ago – and possibly fueled by the baby blue eyes of Liam Hemsworth with a quiver tossed over his shoulder in The Hunger Games – my girlfriends and I decided to try our hands at archery. Remember the contestants in The Hunger Games who were killed by a wayward rock or the hive of tracker jackers because they possessed zero outdoorsy skills? That would be me. I braced myself to be a horrible archer.
I trail run. I yoga. I do not arch. 
But in the course of those few months, something triggered {including the three fingers on my right hand pulling back the weight of a bow}: I actually like this. I’m not bad at this. This was easy to learn. 
So when Part 3 of this web series for GetIn Outdoors came up, I jumped at an opportunity to take the kids out.

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We met Tim Beck, a coordinator with the Indiana Department Of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division. In his role, Tim oversees Indiana Hunter Education and the Indiana NASP {National Archery in the Schools Program}. Koteewi Archery Range of Noblesville provided the perfect backdrop especially as it’s still a fairly best-known-secret kinda spot since their grand opening last June.
I instantly remembered Tim’s kind face from my time at the DNR although I didn’t divulge that to him. He smiled as we walked in and powerfully shook my hand. We spoke for a few minutes as the kids quietly explored ran amuck in the Koteewi Range showroom:
“I’m glad you came out,” said Tim after I thanked him for hosting us. “Since this is the kids first time shooting archery, I want to get rid of any fear they might have and make them feel comfortable and safe. Kind of like what the Ford Hoosier Outdoor Experience offers our visitors.”
He noted that thanks to movies like The Hunger Games and Disney’s Brave – and a primetime TV presence of archery during the recent Summer Olympics – the sport has surged in recent popularity.
But the Indiana DNR is also to thank for that popularity:  NASP {which originated in Indiana and is housed by the DNR Law Enforcement Division} has grown to over 350 participating schools in just ten years. Available for kids in the 4th-12th grades, many Indiana-based schools are adding archery as after-school programs or creating archery clubs. Survey data shows NASP has touched the lives of more than 1,500 volunteers and 60,000 students… enter two more with my Hunter and Emerson.

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“We always want to make sure the equipment matches the individual and the opportunity,” said Tim.
So we got outfitted with a universal bow {which bears a small amount of weight and is perfect for beginners} and a quiver of arrows from Tony Girt, manager of the range. Tim pulled us out to a quiet spot for some ground rules/instructions as we prepped for target archery, where shooters aim at a stationary target:
  • – First, determine which is your dominant eye: This will dictate which side you shoot from.
  • – It’s okay to adjust as you go: No one picks this up immediately… except Liam Hemsworth.
  • – Respect other archers: Don’t tear out onto the course before checking that everyone is finished shooting.
  • – There are plenty of opportunities to learn from a local range to the 4H shooting sports program with Purdue to various local parks and rec offerings.
  • – Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Ranges employ experts so when you don’t have a Tim to help you, staff are usually on hand for questions and tips.
  • – Try, try again.
The kiddos picked up the basic elements of archery right away and Tim remained interminably patient, even after fielding all 14,298 of their questions {truly an all-time low}:
Yes, archery is safe.
No that fake deer won’t jump out at you.
Yes, archery is safe.
Because if you pick up the arrow by its point, it might sting you a little.
Yes, archery is safe.
I think you are both shooting very well – no one is ‘winning’.
Yes, archery is safe.
… Okay so that last answer was in response to me wondering aloud if archery was a safe family sport. Tim explained that yes, while archery can be used as a method of hunting, it’s also a great outdoor family activity and one that’s relatively easy to setup in your own backyard. It doesn’t require a visit to the range {although Koteewi Range in Noblesville is fabulous and worth checking out!} and allows families the opportunity to enjoy the natural resources and surroundings in Indiana.
Hey, that sounds a little like the mission for the Ford Hoosier Outdoor Experience, right? Tim spoke so highly of the program. Not in an overly boastful way, but rather as a proud dad. And he should: He’s been involved with the Experience since its launch 8 years ago. Archery is only one of the activities that can be found in the Shooting Sports Venue at the Experience, along with shotgun and air rifle shooting. Since Indiana DNR conservation officers {affectionately known as ‘COs’} work the range – along with a gaggle of volunteers from partnering organizations – it’s also a great opportunity for visitors to learn more about what COs do in their every day life while honing their arching skills.
A thunderstorm rolled in to the range and the kids and I found ourselves scrambling to return our equipment before making a mad dash to the car. “I hope I see you out at the Experience this year!” Tim called after us.
“Of course! We’ll see you in six weeks!” I shouted. But I have a feeling I’ll be making a return trip to the range before then: On the way home the kids made plans for creating bows and arrows out of my kitchen supplies. They might be Olympic-worthy by the time we see Tim next.

Other posts in the GetIN Outdoors web series:

Remember when we learned about throwing atlatl?

Here’s where we talked about the basics of camping.

 

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