Too Many Drawbacks? Aim for Archery!

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Hyein Lee

Mr. Lawrence is all smiles as he shows the joy of wielding a bow and arrow.

Busy chatter, hallways teeming with students, and hectic schedules describe the setting of a typical day at school. As students decide on the many sports available to participate in during the 2017-2018 fall, winter, and spring athletic seasons, a debate has begun as to whether or not archery should be considered an official Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) sport.

Archery has become increasingly popular over the years, thanks to the ‘Hunger Game’ Series and the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. Slowly, archery has made its way into some schools nationwide as an option for either a Fall or Spring sport. Although many people see archery’s benefits in improving students’ focus and concentration, others are reminded of the potential dangers that come along with wielding a bow and arrow.

According to the PSAL homepage, archery is currently not one of the sports offered at New York City public schools, although it is listed as a sport on the PSAL Sports Examination Form. Therefore, most schools do not have archery available, and instead, join private organizations that offer the sport, such as the NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) and OAS (Olympic Archery in Schools).

These programs are offered to high school students from all over the nation. “To begin with, the program that we are applying for (OAS), provides equipment and targets for no cost,” sayidEdison Zhu ’19, who hopes to create an archery club for Bronx Science. These outside programs seem like a great way to explore the world of archery while taking safety precautions, and doing so in a cost-friendly manner.

Many students at Bronx Science see benefits in offering archery as a sport. “Archers learn to tune out all distractions, focus on their form, and release the bowstring consistently,” said Zhu ’19.

Physics Teacher Mr. Lawrence demonstrates the precise technique of wielding a bow and arrow.

William O’Hara, Physical Education teacher, also sees benefits in the sport. “ It is definitely a sport that requires good hand/eye coordination.”

Former archery instructor and Social Studies teacher Mr. Fialkow sees long term benefits in the sport. Studies have also shown that those who practice archery have the ability to sustain focus for longer periods of time in a variety of fields.  From first-hand experience, it can calm the mind- almost like meditation,” Fialkow said.

 Faculty and students seem to agree that there are many benefits that come along with playing the sport of archery. Despite this, some safety precautions would have to be taken in order to prevent any dangers or injuries.

“Safety would have to be a top priority, and there need to be clear rules and regulations on where, when, and how archery will be practiced to prevent any injuries,” said Fialkow. Students must learn how to point the arrow in specific directions, know the parts of the bow, learn the basics in drawing the bow, and pay attention to specific instructions when firing or retrieving. A gym space and storage area for the equipment is also necessary for the sport.

“You cannot point the bow in certain directions, you can’t draw the bow at a certain angle, You can’t even take an arrow out of your quiver unless you are on the line,” said Brian Zheng ’19. “However, regulation on how archery competition is carried out makes the sport incredibly safe.”

Studies have also shown that those who practice archery have the ability to sustain focus for longer periods of time in a variety of fields.  From first-hand experience, it can calm the mind- almost like meditation.”

As the Athletic Director at Bronx Science, Mr. McGrath has some concerns regarding archery. “My staff and I would definitely need training on how to effectively teach the sport. In addition, I would be worried that our class sizes would be too big for a sport like archery to be taught safely and correctly,” McGrath said.

There are many practical considerations that would need to be overcome to make archery available at Bronx Science. However, the addition of archery to the school would be welcomed by the student body, overall. Based on a poll on Facebook which asked whether or not archery should be considered a PSAL sport,  119 students voted yes while 7 voted against.

While archery seems to cause worries for some, students and faculty members could certainly benefit from the sport being offered, if practical and safety considerations could be overcome.

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