If they had this kind of stuff when I was in school, I may have actually looked forward to getting on the bus each morning.
I was too short for basketball, too small for football, and the baseball season conflicted with the best trout fishing. But archery, I've long been a whiz with a bow and arrow. That would have been perfect.
Today's student athletes have a wide variety of sports to choose from. One of the best, though, comes thanks to a program coordinated in Pennsylvania by the Game Commission.
It's called the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). And early next month, nearly 1,000 of Pennsylvania's students will head to State College to participate in the state's annual tournament.
The program has been hugely successful. In fact, it's grown so fast, tournament officials have had trouble keeping up.
"At least 125 schools are involved in Pennsylvania NASP," said Samantha Pedder, Game Commission outreach coordinator.
"As a result of the overwhelming response from schools to participate in the tournament, we're adding more shooting positions to the event's range to accommodate everyone. Over the last three years, the range has nearly doubled in size, allowing 190 students to shoot at one time."
One of the greatest aspects of the program is that students can get involved in the earliest of grades. The state tournament is open to students of all ages, with divisions for students in elementary (starting in fourth grade), middle and high school.
The tournament is pretty simple. Each archer gets a practice round of five arrows at 10 meters and then the competition begins, with three rounds of five arrows.
After that, they increase the distance to the target to 15 meters and do it all over again. The competitors are judged as a team and as individual archers. The winners get a chance to go to the national tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, in May.
What's so appealing about the program is the students are learning a skill they can use for the rest of their lives.
Where most student athletes never compete past high school, archery is a lifelong skill. We're helping our children build the foundation for a lifelong passion.
"We want to encourage them to keep shooting and to consider taking the next steps toward 3-D archery tournaments and, eventually, bowhunting, which are natural avenues for archers to hone and maintain their skills," said Pedder.
While it's too late for fresh entrants to get involved with the state tournament on March 8, there is always next year.
For details on how to get your student or school involved in the program, contact the Game Commission's headquarters in Harrisburg. Who knows, you may have an athlete in your house after all.
-- Andy Snyder writes about the outdoors for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.