Wednesday, April 17, 2013

An Outdoor Sport Not Just for the Big Screen

Kids visiting Klineline Pond get an archery lesson before trying
it out.

Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
These days when you think archery, or even better, when any kids in your life think archery, what comes to mind? Katniss Everdeen? Brave? Teenagers loving or idolizing Oliver Queen from the show Arrow? Either way, there is no doubt that an increase in bow-and-arrow-toting heroes in pop culture has shed some light on the sport. Even before The Hunger Games though, archery has always been a great way for kids and adults alike to connect with nature. But now more than ever its appeal is enough to rival the fine-looking couch and Xbox. And you don’t need to be the victor of the 74th annual Hunger Games to give it a go.

All-Access Archery
Kids and volunteers gather for Kids Fishing Day at Klineline Pond.
Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
This past week, Klineline Pond in Salmon Creek, Washington partnering with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and others, hosted its annual Kids Fishing Day. Each year, one day is set aside for children with disabilities to come out and enjoy a day of fishing and exciting activities. They can enter contests and compete with other kids for a number of different prizes, all while spending the day outdoors! Over recent years, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Region (USFWS), has been partnering up with the event to provide an archery booth for the visiting kids. For many of these kids, getting out on a lake to fish was a new experience, but archery seemed even more intangible. Today however, a little bit of Hollywood, and a whole lot of fun in nature took over.

Anticipating the "Swoop"
One of our archery stars for the day!
Credit: Jane Chorazy/USFWS
As groups of kids and parents began to pile over to our archery booth, swarms of USFWS volunteers took turns providing one-on-one support for each child who wanted to try their hand at shooting an arrow. Onlooking spectators watched as the first few arrows bounced out of the bow awkwardly, or flew just a few feet before nose diving into the wet grass (full disclosure: When I tried it out, "first few" was more like "first ten"). But these kids were resilient. It wasn't long before you heard the sound of the first glorious "SWOOP" of an arrow smashing into the target. And then another. And then four more.

Big Screen Heroes
Some kids came back for more! By his fifth go around at
the archery booth, he was a pro!

Credit: Meghan Kearney/USFWS
All day rounds and rounds of kids of all ages and abilities stuck around until hitting their own first bullseye. Almost all of the kids were curious to know more. One parent approached us after her son finished his fourth round-about in the waiting line for an archery spot laughed saying "You'll never guess what he wants for his birthday," while another group of kids asked where they could find local archery classes. One very excited girl, after hitting the target on all of her final five arrows shouted, "just call me the archery queen!" It was an exciting experience had by all at Klineline this weekend. The visiting kids had a blast, while the volunteers enjoyed the reward of being a part of that. I think all of us left feeling a little like a big screen hero.

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