Saturday, March 31, 2012

Archery Ticket to Higher Learning

I know this blog is about our gun culture and "Liberal in the NRA" and the schizophrenic nature of our sport's image (weapons vs sport), but at this point, I must digress. While paging through my Chicago Tribune yesterday, I tripped over a long article with photos about archery. What stopped me is the association between archery and education. You can get a college scholarship through excellence with a bow and arrow. It seems that interest in archery is growing as a sport and as a ticket to college, especially since our last Olympic Archery team was slaughtered in their last appearance. Schools have been intensifying their search for bow and arrow talent as school administrations have shown approval.

Now, in the course of America's sports history, college rifle and pistol teams once were training grounds for marksmen and women -- even though the NRA frowned on European metric targets and ranges. When I was in high school, our ROTC battalion had a rifle team, of which I was co-captain. We were doomed to somewhat mediocre performance by the army surplus 1920 Springfield .22 rifles that were hardly tack drivers. However, at the senior year's sports award banquet, my team mates and I were able to step forward and receive our sports letter to sew on our school sweaters along with the other jocks. That was the first time my Dad ever applauded me and my ticket was punched as a lifelong marksman.

We haven't been exactly world beaters at International firearms competition. It would be nice if schools could revive interest in rifle and pistol marksmanship at the scholarship level if we can bring the sport back to public recognition as a character builder and disciplined pursuit as practiced by today's marksmen and women. I have no sour grapes against archery. I have a beautiful hand made 75 pound recurve in my closet, which only needs a set of matched arrows to resuscitate. Good for archery, but rifle, pistol and shotgun marksmanship should be rewarded with the same push as other traditional sports -- especially with a league of our own.