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More coaches wanted after Alexandria’s junior high archery program doubles in numbers

Alexandria's junior high team within the National Archery in the Schools Program went from 26 kids last year to almost 60 this season, creating a need for more equipment and also for more volunteer coaches who would be willing to help out.

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A group of junior high archers from Alexandria's team in the National Archery in the Schools program practices on Jan. 4, 2022. Alexandria's junior high program jumped from 26 members last season to almost 60 this year, creating a need for more equipment and additional coaches to help the young archers. Contributed photo

Alexandria’s National Archery in the Schools program made a big participation jump this season at the junior high level.

That’s part of the mission of NASP -- to give as many boys and girls in grades 6-12 of all ability levels an opportunity to experience archery. But it has also put Alexandria’s coaching staff in a bit of a bind in that they could use more help.

“Part of the problem is just plain equipment,” Alexandria junior high archery coach Jim Stratton said. “We had enough bows for our 30 kids, but now with double that, they’re having to share bows back and forth. We’re going to have to probably pick up another 25, 30 bows just to cover what we’ve increased this year, and we need some interested adults, male or female, who know a little bit about archery. We’ll train them in the NASP techniques. That’s the easy part. The hard part is being able to teach 30 kids on a line and give each one the time they deserve in order to be able to improve. We need additional eyes on the troops so to speak.”

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A big group of girls and boys take aim at their targets during Alexandria's junior high archery practice on Jan. 4, 2022. Contributed photo

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Alexandria’s junior high program went from 26 kids last year to almost 60 now. Like trap shooting in the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League , teams within NASP rely on volunteer coaches to work with the kids, and primarily on donations to help purchase equipment like targets as they wear out and the Genesis Bows they use to compete.

The junior high program in Alexandria currently has three coaches. Stratton said they could easily use two more.

“What’s really cool about this is we opened it up to 6th grade last year, and we got probably 10,” Stratton said. “This year, we’ve got 26 6th-graders and half of them are girls. If you look at our line, it isn’t all boys. There’s a high percentage of girls on that line.”

Alan Hansen, one of the coaches in the Alexandria high school archery program, said that numbers at the high school level have remained steady from last year.

“We would like another coach or so at the high school level,” Hansen said. “What we need is someone who has some archery background.”

The NASP season started on Dec. 7 and runs through the Friday and Saturday of March 25-26 when the state tournament is scheduled in Duluth.

Alexandria practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, with coaches arriving at the school at about 6:45 a.m. and able to leave before 8. Stratton said Alexandria has four competitions where the archers get an opportunity to test their aim against other schools. Alexandria Area High School is hosting an invite on March 5.

Stratton can be reached at 320-808-5096 if anyone wants more information on how they can help with the program.

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“The message would be that if you’re interested, there are videos and help that we can give them to get them to the point where they’d be sure enough of themselves to be able to give the young archer the help they really deserve,” Stratton said of the junior high program. “You don’t have to be this wonderful shooter. You can be someone who is interested in helping and willing to work with young kids. We’ll give you the tools.”

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