Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and organizations have been forced to re-evaluate how they do business and innovate new ways to provide service to their customers. The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP®), an in-school training effort with millions of participants, is no exception. Over the past several months, NASP® has made significant changes to how educators are trained as well as new options for participation in archery competitions.
NASP® has an excellent safety record. This is attributed to the attention that is always given to safety as well as the standardized trainings we offer. NASP® has 3 levels of instructors. Our challenge has been to maintain this same level of safety and standardization with our trainings while reducing the amount of contact that occurs during in-person instruction.
- Basic Archery Instructor (BAI) – presents NASP® style archery lessons to students in grades 4-12. Traditionally, the certification process required 7-8 hours of live training with an exam at the end of the day. While this live option continues, there is now an alternative to complete a 3-4-hour online class and online exam then attend a 4 hour “field day” to review and practice the skills learned during the online training. This is referred to as a Hybrid BAI class.
- Basic Archery Instructor Trainer (BAIT) – trains the teacher to present NASP® style archery lessons to their students. Traditionally, the certification process required a 3-day training with an exam at the end of day two and a practical training new BAIs on day 3. In addition to this traditional class, there is now an option to complete an online class and online exam. Most of this class is online with a field day for review and competition of practical exercises.
- Basic Archery Instructor Trainer Specialist (BAITS) – trains the trainer candidates. Traditionally, the certification process required a 3-day training where they were supervised training new BAIT candidates. There is now an additional training option where the Specialist candidate may also save time and travel with online instruction followed by a field day to ensure their competence.
In addition to these new options for training instructions, there are also 100% online classes and exams available for re-certification, should a BAI/BAIT/BAITS allow their certification to lapse. There is even a 3-4-hour online class that allows any BAI to voluntarily refresh their NASP® training skills at any time they want to conduct a self-check.
A second issue that NASP® needed to address was tournament participation. Each year NASP® hosts over 1,100 Local, State and Nationals archery competitions through its tournament site, https://nasptournaments.org/ . Throughout our history, we know that NASP® students LOVE TO SHOOT! Most of these events are land based (face-to-face) events. Roy Grimes, President of NASP® points out, “recently we learned from students, that participation in the program helps 58% of them feel more connected to their school. A closer look reveals that 80% of students who are able use their classroom lessons to actually compete in archery events, feel more connected to their school and the educational process. Not only is competition fun, but it helps NASP® realize the academic achievement aspect of its Mission”.
However, with travel and social distancing restrictions in place due to COVID 19, many schools are finding it difficult, even illegal to participate in these face-to-face competitions. NASP® scoring software has always had a face to face (live) option and a virtual (online) option. Coaches let us know that they wanted a “hybrid” option. This would allow a school to host a land-based competition and allow any school that is permitted to travel to shoot in-person; and permit a school that could not travel to participate from their own location. These virtual participants would record and submit their scores to the tournament host. The host could then combine those scores with the “on-site” scores to determine overall individual and team rankings.
An additional feature also facilitates hosting of smaller tournaments. In the past, the scoring software was designed to manage scores by using bubbled scorecards and expensive scanning machines. Some schools are unable to afford the purchase of a scanner and therefore cannot use the scoring software. This new feature will allow those schools to enter the scores into a spreadsheet and enter results into the scoring program for ranking and uploading the results to the website.
Patrick O’Connell, NASP® Director of IT services, stated, “We are constantly working to make it easier to grow NASP® while making sure that safety remains our #1 priority. The on-line training features provide teaches who could not get away for a full day of travel and live training, opportunity to bring NASP® to their students. More teachers and more students result in continued expansion of the world’s largest youth archery program”.
Grimes again provides, “NASP® is determined to exit this COVID “season” stronger than it entered. Improving access to training and competition are important steps in that direction”. As time moves forward and things get “back to normal” NASP® will continue to look for other opportunities to use technology to keep introducing students to archery in a safe and fun way. For more information about the non-profit NASP® please visit: www.naspschools.com