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Archery program hits spot for city kids

Brian Hsu of Flushing watches as his son Tony, 8, aims a bow and arrow during the event at Alley Pond Park. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

The city seems to be preparing its youth for a sequel to “The Hunger Games.”

Archery is on the rise as the popular movie featuring a bow and arrow-toting heroine is igniting an interest in the sport among fans young and old.

And as a way to nurture that interest, the city Parks Department invited area children to take aim at a new hobby.

Families and children 8 and older were welcomed to participate in an archery program at the Alley Park Adventure Course Sunday. Parks views archery as a great way to improve focus and develop patience, as a rushed shot almost never hits its mark.

Trained Rangers demonstrated the safe and proper way to draw a bow and shoot an arrow and provided tips to the young Katniss Evergreens in the crowd on how to hit the target — or at least get as close as possible.

Sanchez demonstrated the different grips, the correct stance, how to load the bow and subsequently fire an arrow. When he attempted a first-hand demonstration, Sanchez missed the target, to the delight of the children in attendance.

His second shot, though, was true and nailed the target almost dead-center.

“It takes time and patience to fire an arrow,” said Sanchez. “If you think before you shoot, hopefully your arrow will land somewhere near the target.”

Parks is not the only city department extolling the virtues of archery. The city Department of Education green-lighted a program to allow students to learn archery in an attempt to spread Olympic-style archery in public schools, according to Easton Development Sports Foundation.

The DOE is partnering with the California-based sporting foundation, which will offer the program and equipment for free to any city school that wants to participate. The foundation is offering two programs, one which provides equipment and training and another that provides grants for schools that already have a certified archery instructor.

Caren Sawyer, executive director of Easton, said archery is a great sport to include in a school’s curriculum because it acts as a learning mechanism that kids can apply to other aspects of life.

“Archery helps kids focus, concentrate and learn how to follow directions,” she said. “It also gives kids a good sense of achievement, as they tend to see marked improvements over time.”

Sawyer said the biggest issue is finding places for kids to shoot since archery ranges are not as prevalent as basketball courts. She is hoping the popularity of “Hunger Games” carries enough momentum to expand the sport into schools across the country.

“Since that movie came out, we’ve had many more hits to our website and it has really gotten people in the industry talking,” she said. “It’s a really exciting time.”

Schools interested in learning more should contact Easton at its California headquarters at 818-782-7625.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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