On Wednesday, 1,200 students and 64 teams from Oklahoma high schools, middle schools and elementary schools will convene at the State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City to compete in the state's ninth archery championship tournament.
Archery in the Schools has become the most popular educational program the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has ever introduced.
It started in 2004 with 10 pilot schools. At the first state archery shoot in 2005, 180 students competed at the University of Central Oklahoma
Now, more than 400 schools and almost 50,000 students in Oklahoma are annually taking an eight-week archery session, taught by teachers trained in archery by the Wildlife Department.
“If we had relied upon agency personnel to teach this program like we did for years with aquatic education and the shotgun shooting program, we wouldn't be able to reach those numbers,” said Colin Berg, information education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Participation has grown so much through the years that the Wildlife Department now holds six regional shoots as qualifiers to the state shoot.