Hanna Osier started the National Archery in the Schools Program in late October. Daughter of a successful archery hunter, Osier pulled back her bow on the first day in the National Archery in the School Program.
She let loose her arrow.
It flew sideways, past the 36-inch inch Olympic target, and into the arrow-stopping curtain behind.
“They were demon possessed,” she said.
On the next shot, the bowstring slapped her arm, leaving a red welt.
“That always gets our attention,” said Denny Harger, certified instructor for the Payson Parks and Recreation after-school program that teaches students in grades 4-12 bow shooting and safety.
“We taught her to roll her elbow and grip the bow properly.”
A few days later, Osier, 12, hit her first of many bull’s-eyes, and her eyes lit up like Green Valley Park at Christmas time.
By contrast, Dillon Justice came to class already an expert with his longbow. His skills transferred quickly to the Genesis compound bow. The wonderful fully adjustable bow will fit everyone from a fourth-grader to full-size adults.
“The Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department’s Youth Archery Program, utilizing local Arizona Game and Fish certified archery instructors is a fantastic outdoor recreation opportunity for Rim Country youth,” says Mary McMullen, outdoor recreation coordinator for the town of Payson.
“It not only instructs them in archery basics and safety, utilizing equipment on loan from AZGFD, but it also teaches them how to focus and enjoy a new sport that can be done in the outdoors at any age.”
Youth in grades 4 to 12 can participate. “The more the merrier, we want every kid in the Payson area to have a chance to take the class,” said Harger. “Several kids take the class multiple times and they are welcome to take it again.”
The classes take place in the new gymnasium at Julia Randall Elementary School. The course consists of eight one-hour classes held twice a week for four weeks. A course is in progress now, and another is being planned for late winter or early spring. To enroll, call Payson Parks and Recreation.
“I want every kid who thinks there is nothing to do in Payson to come take the course,” says Harger, who has been in the Rim Country since 1969.
“A lot of our children have no idea how much there is for them to do around here.”
Currently, the program has about 10 students enrolled. Each pays $35 for the one-month course.
“I think it’s great that the kids get a chance to learn archery, and they all enjoy it so much. There’s something magical about shooting a pointed stick into the center of a target. It’s a sport that kids can enjoy their entire lives. I know I have,” states Ken Crump, certified archery instructor.
Through positive reinforcement, responsibility, and competition, kids learn range safety and etiquette, bow and arrow nomenclature, scoring, and the 11 steps to archery success.
The Payson Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department offers many opportunities for children to safely explore and and experience the outdoors.
Upcoming Payson Parks and Recreation events include:
• Waterfowl 101: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1-2:30 p.m. (1/2 day of school) — $5 per person at Green Valley Parks and Recreation office.
• GeoKidz “Hurray — It’s a Half-Day” Program: The November session is full — Dec. 9, noon to 4 p.m., meet at Rumsey Park, Ramada #5 and go on a field trip in the Rim Country.
• PATS Hikes: Great for people of all ages. Next one — Saturday, Nov. 14 — Payson Event Center to Peach Orchard — 4 miles one way with a shuttle set up at the end to return people to event center — starts 9 a.m. departure.
For more information on upcoming events, call the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department at 474-5242 ext. 7.