| Apr 03, 2019

The GREC gym somewhat resembled a mediaeval competition last Thursday as the Gryphons hosted teams from Holy Cross Secondary in Kingston, the North Addington Education Centre in Cloyne and Percy Centennial Public School in Warkworth for a National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) championship.

“The program was designed in Kentucky and now we have 18 million kids participating worldwide,” said Tim Watts, who helps run the program in Ontario. “And not one insurance claim.”

Safety is paramount for obvious reasons. The participants are regulated and told when to approach the shooting line, when to shoot and when to retrieve their arrows.

Watts said all shooters use the same Mathews compound bows.

“That’s so a Grade 4 can hand the bow to a grade 12 and not have to adjust anything,” he said.

There are 125 schools in Ontario active in the program and more than 500 teachers trained, he said.

“The schools purchase the equipment (at 65 per cent of retail) and we train their teachers,” he said.

Shawn Lavender and Jamie McCullough run the program at GREC.

“This is our 4th year participating in the tournament,” said McCullough. “This is our second live and we’ve been in two virtual tournaments.

“When we found out they were looking for a host site, we offered ours.”

“Archery addresses students that don’t normally participate in group sports,” said Lavender. “It’s a bit of a niche in that you’re competing for a personal best all the time.

“And there’s a lot of camaraderie.”

He said they had six archers when they began and have 15 now, including students in the community program members.

“We’re trying to offer a variety of sports,” said McCullough. “Including ultimate frisbee and we even have a fishing team.”

They even lured retired teacher, Tom Corneil, out of retirement to help out with the younger members.

“I enjoy archery,” he said. “You can do it anywhere.

“And giving people an opportunity to participate is what teaching is all about.

“I like watching the kids participate, smile and improve.”

Senior student Tyee Davis is one of those participants.

“I’ve been shooting since I was three years old with a little plastic bow,” he said. “Archery is just really fun in general but it also connects me to my Native ancestors.

“And it’s good practice for hunting.”

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