The NASP program started in 2002 in Kentucky, by the Kentucky Fish & Wildlife, in an effort to get children of school ages off the computers and into the outdoors. Since that date, the program has grown to accommodate nearly four million children annually, worldwide, and currently we have trained over a billion children. The program is in almost 5,000 schools and boasts a world record for the most participants in an archery tournament.
The program has provincial, state, national and world championships every year. In BC, we have held the provincials in Kelowna for the last two years. Nationals have been in Edmonton and in Regina in the last two years.
Scholarships are also available through the national and provincial co-ordinators. The program is actually larger than minor baseball and minor lacrosse put together in the United States. The program is in almost every province in Canada and in Africa, New Zealand, Australia and more.
The program uses the same bow for everyone, to keep it on an even playing field so wealthier children do not have better bows than other children. The bows are generally under $300, and they even must all use the same arrows across the program.
The Genesis bow we use is unique in that it can be used by children from grade 4 to grade 12. The bows do not have a wall and thus fit every sized person. The bows can be turned from nine pounds to 20 pounds maximum. Now, that does not sound like a lot, but because they are the same pull all the way, they do not have a let-off. An archer holding at 20 pounds with no let-off is as much as a 70-pound hunting bow with let-off. The bows can come in all colours, and even custom bows can be ordered.
Archery is a one-size-fits-all sport, and everyone has the same chance to be good. Archery does not require teammates and is as relaxing or as competitive as you want to make it.
NASP in BC is co-ordinated by the BC Wildlife Federation. Chris Lim is the man to talk to, or you can reach out to me, if you have questions or inquiries. Teachers take a one-day clinic to become certified in the program, where they will learn how to set up and run a range safely, learn and teach eye dominance, how to make a string bow training aid, the 11 steps to proper archery form, coaching techniques, safety orientation, and some minor repairs on the bows and arrows. An exam is completed at the end of the class, where the teachers must get 80 per cent or better to become certified. The teachers must fill out an annual report on what they did through the year in order to maintain their certification. I do certification clinics around the Okanagan regularly, and Chris Lim and others do clinics throughout the rest of the province. Cost of a certification clinic is $175 per person, which includes the manuals to help you throughout the year. In BC in 2018, we had 25 active schools in NASP.
The newest change to NASP over the last couple of years is that now fish and game clubs can join NASP and people in those clubs, and others like Scouts and Camps, can become certified. At one time, only teachers could take the program and become certified. By letting clubs join, it helps a club have people with some form of certification to ensure safety is maintained and makes a club more professional and consistently run. NASP boasts a perfect safety record over 17 years, with not even one accident to date, so teachers and coaches who signing up must maintain this perfect record to ensure the program continues in schools for years to come. This information helps when convincing a school district or club insurance policy that our sport is low risk.
We know statistically that as least 52 per cent of children that take NASP in school will try hunting and this is a good program to help us preserve this right in the world.
The program is funded by sponsors like Mathews/Mission, Morrell and Easton, to name a few. For more information, check out the NASP website, the BCWF website or contact Chris Lim or myself for more details.