Not every student is destined to play on a junior high or high school sports team. Only the best ever reach the field or the court, and the rest see sporadic play or never leave the bench.
But a champion archer from the lake area has a way to include every student, regardless of talent, in a sport that reaches as far as the Olympics and deep into the Amazon jungle near Bolivia, South America.
Darrell Dixon of Linn Creek has accomplished nearly every archery objective he has tackled ― he’s a world champion ― and now he wants to share his expertise with lake-area students. He started an archery program through the Church at Osage Hills that involved 91 students and more than 60 adults, and he hopes to take his program to lake-area schools including School of the Osage.
“In most sports, kids have to earn the right to play. But what about the kids who don’t make it? There isn’t a kid out there who can’t learn the fundamentals of archery, and then apply what they’ve learned to any sport,” Dixon explained.
According to the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP), which is the heart of Dixon’s program, students in archery are focused, confident and motivated. Their self-confidence and behavior improve.
The program covers archery history, safety, technique, equipment, concentration, core strengthening, physical fitness and self-improvement. He’s taught more than 20,000 people how to shoot a bow and arrow, including archery instruction at the Kids’ Fishing Derby Oct. 13 at Pa He Tsi in the Lake of the Ozarks State Park.
The Osage High School soccer team took a recent side trip to Ozark Archery between soccer matches Oct. 5 to participate in archery lessons in the indoor archery range.
The OHS group was instructed by Dixon and Eric Petska of Lake Home and Landscape.
“We’ve touched a lot of lives over the years,” he said.
“Ozark Archery got involved with the school system through Darrell who assists pro staff with his vast knowledge of archery when needed,” Ozark Archery owner Joe Valis explained. “We would like to see all of the area schools get involved in an archery program to give the students not only the ability to develop the skills of archery, but also to develop better hand/eye skill coordination and strengthening.”
Dixon has been to the Camdenton School District and other area schools for demonstrations, and has worked with churches, boy scouts and girl scouts and other youth groups.
“These are all good kids willing to learn. They have to focus. It refines their concentration and it improves their line of sight,” the master archer explained. “These are all skills they can apply to all sports and even life.”
Page 2 of 2 - Dixon says he has been prodding School of the Osage to establish an archery team for four years, but the decision-makers haven’t taken the leap yet. He notes that bow hunting in central Missouri is hugely popular, and that other schools have adopted the NASP program.
Another big supporter of archery in the schools is the Missouri Department of Conservation, which has donated time and money to help with Dixon’s local program.
One of the equalizers in the NASP program is that the same type of bow and arrows are used so students have an equal opportunity to succeed. Participants use a Mathews Genesis bow and Eason aluminum 1820 arrows regardless of where the competition is held.
Students have a universal setup whether it’s at Ozark Archery, owned and operated by Joe Valis, or in Carl Junction, Mo., Crane, Mo., or Mobile, Ala.
The Missouri Bowhunters Association is a strong proponent of teaching archery to youth and has 52 clubs around the state.
“There’s no reason why School of the Osage shouldn’t have a team,” Valis said.
With 18 shooting lanes at 20 yards long and another at 30 yards long, he said Ozark Archery offers several types of targets and equipment – including the Mathews Genesis.
“We have tourists who come in here to shoot when they visit the lake, and then come back again and again,” Valis said. “It’s becoming a very popular sport, especially in central Missouri.”