Almost every Saturday morning, a group of about 60 kids in the Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) program meet at the Trosper Archery Range in Oklahoma City's Trosper Park to shoot and improve their skills.
Several members of the Trosper Archery Club, which has been around since 1949 in Oklahoma City, volunteer their time as instructors.
Any child age 6 or older can participate, even if they are not a club member, by just showing up and paying $5 to participate. The fee is cut in half for club members.
The JOAD program is a great place to start for anyone with a child interested in archery.
“We provide equipment for beginners to learn to shoot, and we've got certified instructors to help them learn,” said Jane Johnson, who co-founded the JOAD program in Oklahoma City in 1997.
Johnson, of Edmond, is a living legend in archery. She has done more than any other Oklahoman to grow the sport of archery. Twice she was president of the National Archery Association, now known as USA Archery.
Even at age 82, Johnson still serves as a national archery judge. She worked the 1996 Olympics as a scoring judge and has the highest ranking a coach can earn from USA Archery.
Now, she and the other instructors at the Trosper Archery Club are teaching Oklahoma City-area youth about the sport through the JOAD program.
The power of Hollywood has caused the participation in the JOAD program to triple in recent years, Johnson said. Movies like “The Hunger Games” and “Brave” have caused more kids to want to be archers, she said, and it's proven on Saturday mornings at the Trosper Archery Range.
The kids meet each Saturday morning at Trosper Park when there is not a tournament at the site, or when the cold weather forces them indoors to the H&H Shooting Sports Complex.
On some Saturdays, the young archers shoot to earn achievement awards, pins that they can place on their quivers or lanyards. A schedule of JOAD shooting dates can be found on the Trosper Archery Club's website, www.trosperarchery.com.
Johnson recommends parents not bring any child younger than 6.
“If they are younger than (6) and can follow directions and are safe about their shooting, we let them shoot as well,” Johnson said.
The Trosper Archery Range is in Trosper Park south of downtown Oklahoma City, about a half-mile east of Interstate 35 at 2201 SE Grand Blvd.
The Trosper Archery Club operates the range, but it is open to the public on most Saturdays from March through August. Nonmembers must pay a daily fee of $5. On other dates, nonmembers must make an appointment to shoot, but they may also shoot in any of the leagues that the club sponsors year-round.
Those include an indoor league at the H&H Shooting Sports Complex, a 3D league, a target league and a field league. The Trosper Archery Range has two field league courses that wind through the woods, including the largest field league range in the state.
During September, the 3D course gets busy with bow hunters who are sighting in equipment for the upcoming archery seasons. Bow hunters just need to make an appointment with the club to shoot.
In addition to the JOAD program, the Trosper Archery Club also offers lessons to adults.
The club, which has about 400 active members, maintains a range consisting of practice targets, a 3D course, two 14-target field courses and a target course.
“We are trying to get more participation in the club,” said Kasey Gipson, president of the Trosper Archery Club. “Mowing and weed-eating these ranges takes quite a bit of work.
“We have some big national tournaments we host here. It's a great thing to have right in the middle of Oklahoma City, a place where you can go shoot. We are really fortunate to have this here.”
Next year, the club will offer working and non-working memberships as prices will be discounted to those who help maintain the courses and volunteer to work at events.
The club often hosts tournaments. In two weeks, Trosper will be the site of the Oklahoma Archery Association's State Target Championships.
“We have some big national shoots coming next year,” Gipson said.