Thunder Bay

Archery pilot program launches in northwest Ontario schools

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is launching a pilot archery program in 13 schools across the province, including four in the province's northwest.

Program aims to get youth interested in hunting

Teachers are taught archery in preparation for teaching students. The program was started in Kentucky in 2001. (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters)

For some students in the northwest, gym class this fall involves picking up bows and arrows.

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is launching a pilot archery program in 13 schools across the province. 

They include Westgate Collegiate & Vocational Institute in Thunder Bay, Beaver Brae Secondary School in Kenora, Open Roads Public School in Dryden and George O'Neill Public Elementary in Nipigon.

Galen Eagle says the archery program has already been successful in Saskatchewan. (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters)

​Federation spokesperson Galen Eagle said he hopes the program will get more young people interested in hunting.

"Many of the kids have likely never picked up a bow and arrow before," he said. "So we get to reach a whole new demographic, and for the kids it means it's a new thing in their gym class that other schools in their area might not get to do."

Mitch Hancock, the teacher who runs the program at Beaver Brae, says students have shown a strong interest in the program.

"I hear a lot of students talking about it in the hallways."

'Great equalizer'

The program and curriculum already exists in other areas. The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) was started in Kentucky in 2001 and Eagle says it's been popular in Saskatchewan.

"The NASP program shows that archery is a great equalizer," he said. "It's not like football or hockey where the biggest strongest kids get to play. Archery allows kids of all ages and abilities to take part."

Eagle would like to see the archery program eventually expand to all Ontario schools. 

"I think really the sky's the limit in terms of the number of thousands and thousands of schools we have in Ontario. We're really looking big on this and hoping this is a program that will spread."

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