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Education Features

Cardinal O’Hara High School hits target with new archery program


TONAWANDA — Cardinal O’Hara High School is taking aim at a sport just introduced to the school’s curriculum ­– archery.

Cardinal O’Hara High School students are learning the art of archery as the school unveiled its new indoor archery program. Learning the correct stance are, from left, Holden Cenczyk, Max Hendershot and Michael Ross. (Photo courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

“Archery is often thought of as a low-impact sport, but it’s one that requires skill, coordination, muscular strength and endurance, especially of the upper and mid-body, and flexibility, as well as power, which is what releases the arrow from the bow,” program coordinator Mike Norwood said.

“Archery’s easy to learn, but difficult to perfect. Although fun, it can be frustrating – and patience in practice is essential for a longer-term future in the sport. Having the determination to precisely repeat a technique makes you a better archer and, consequently, a better person,” he said.

The New York National Archery in the Schools Program archery promotes international-style target archery as part of an in-school curriculum. The goal is to improve educational performance.

At Cardinal O’Hara, a former double classroom has been converted into the archery range. The floors were refinished and striped for distance from the target.

“This makes it an all-year round sport,” Norwood said. “We also plan to have an archery club whose members will compete in the live state tournament in Syracuse.”

Guidelines include use of a Genesis bow, the only one allowed for use by NASP. It is proven safe for in-school use and allows the instructor and student to focus on the process of shooting properly instead of mastering various equipment options and upgrades.

The program had to be certified by the DEC and Cardinal O’Hara must teach lessons at least 10 hours in the curriculum during the school day.

Sam Harmon, Cardinal O’Hara’s physical education teacher, along with Norwood, took classes to be Basic Archery Instructor certified.

“So far, the students like it,” Harmon said. “Surprisingly, the girls pick it up faster.”

“Archery is a sport and, just as any other sport, practice is required. Unlike in a team activity where many people must be coordinated to reach a single goal, an archer must coordinate their bow, arrows, eyes, muscles, and brains to hit a single target,” Norwood added.

“We are very excited to launch our new DEC-approved archery program at O’Hara,” Cardinal O’Hara principal Joleen Dimitroff said. “Our students will be reaping the physical and mental benefits of this fast-growing sport.”