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Local/Regional News Item Tuesday, December 14, 2004
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Archery targets self-esteem for kids
Fun sport alsoState agencies created program  improves health
By Susan D. Hall
Special to The Courier-Journal


Photos by Arza Barnett, The C-J
Fifth-grader Elliott Cabrera, foreground, took aim during an archery class at Mother of Good Counsel School on Westport Road. Teacher Kelley Mullaney-Schleg stood behind the students.


Mullaney-Schleg showed fifth-grader Lindsey Poulter how to place her fingers to hold the arrow during an archery class. "Hitting the bull's-eye is a big confidence builder," Mullaney-Schleg said.

Allie Abrams raises a left-handed bow with some instruction from gym teacher Kelley Mullaney-Schleg at Mother of Good Counsel School.

Mullaney-Schleg steps back, Abrams draws the string, releases it and her arrow hits the target dead center. Her fifth-grade classmates cheer. Abrams smiles in glee. It's her first bull's-eye.

"I usually don't even hit the target," she said later. Her three other arrows aren't so perfect; one hits the curtain behind the targets in the gym. But that one perfect shot. ...

"Hitting the bull's-eye is a big confidence builder," Mullaney-Schleg said.

She began Mother of Good Counsel's archery program this year. It's part of the National Archery in the Schools Program developed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources in conjunction with the state Department of Education and implemented at more than 800 schools nationwide, including six in Jefferson County.

The program is designed to introduce Olympic-style archery to students in sixth through eighth grades. But Mullaney-Schleg opted to also include third- through fifth-graders.

The students use adjustable, child-sized equipment. Schools must have a teacher trained at a National Archery Association course, and the equipment costs about $2,400. The wildlife department provides grants of $525 to Kentucky schools the cost of half the 10 bows.

Roy Grimes, assistant to the commissioner for Fish and Wildlife Resources, said schools in 50 countries have inquired about the program.

More information
For information on the National Archery in the Schools Program, call the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at (800) 858-1548 or go to http://www.nasparchery.com./
He said the department wants to promote skills that help people appreciate the outdoors and learn to take care of the wild places in the state.

Besides a 45-minute gym class each week, the school has an archery club that meets for 1 hours after school on Wednesdays. Club members are preparing for a March tournament with other schools in the program at the Kentucky International Convention Center.

At Mother of Good Counsel, a Catholic school at 8509 Westport Road, 10 students at a time shoot at five hard-rubber targets using sharp, metal-pointed arrows. They progressively move farther back.

"Pull the string back to the corner of your smile," Mullaney-Schleg said. "If you really pull the string back, your arrow will go farther and straighter."

Because shooters have little room to maneuver and lots of room for injury, safety has to come first, Mullaney-Schleg said. There's no room for horseplay, especially in a class of 21 10-year-olds, she said.

Students have been enthusiastic, she said.

"It's cool," said Leonard Spencer, the first one to class that day.

"The first time I did it, I didn't hit the target with any of my arrows," said David Morris, adding that he likes archery.

Mullaney-Schleg also teaches traditional physical education, but that doesn't appeal to everyone. "This teaches kids that they can get fit in a different way. It looks cool among their peers and it helps kids who aren't into traditional sports learn that they can find a way to be healthy," she said.

Principal Liz Lueke remembers the first time Mullaney-Schleg brought in the third- and fourth-graders: "When they hit the target, you could just see their self-confidence rise."

More information

For information on the National Archery in the Schools Program, call the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at (800) 858-1548 or go to http://www.nasparchery.com./


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