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Students from Montana prepare for an archery tournament



Great Falls, Montana – Students are practicing archery inside the Paris Gibson Education Center in Great Falls as they get ready for a competition in February.

Although it is a new initiative for the school system, it is proven to be quite successful.

“We’re trying to get started with the National Archery in our Schools Program (NASP) and we’re just starting and inviting kids to come in and learn how to shoot,” explained Great Falls Public Schools Indigenous Education Director Dugan Coburn.

On Tuesday, under Coburn’s supervision, around a dozen children grabbed up bows and arrows and began shooting at targets.

“It’s one of the safest programs you can have,” Coburn said. “This is another way to get a different group of kids into participating in a sport.”

Children enjoy ninth-grader Aliyah Shedd. “I’d never tried archery before and I thought it’d be a new experience, especially living in Montana. I came from Washington, D.C., which is a big difference from here, and I thought I might try something that was new,” Shedd said.

She was enjoying the experience, even after only shooting a few arrows: “It’s definitely been fun. Although it’s difficult, I’m really glad I gave it a shot.”

The school district actually became a member of NASP in the spring of 2022, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that they could start getting ready for competition.

“There were quite a few Great Falls teachers (who) took the instructor programming training. Once we got that done, it was, like, ‘Well, now we need to start getting that out to the students in our community. There are over 120 schools, it might be 140 schools now, in Montana that are doing archery in their schools,” Coburn explained.

At least two of those institutions were expected to participate in the competition on February 17 at the Paris Gibson Education Center. Helena hosts annual state tournaments in addition to local contests.