By Doug Warner, NEWS 9
MOORE, Oklahoma -- The Oklahoma Wildlife Department is taking the outdoors indoors by helping area schools integrate archery into their curriculums.
Before our next generation of hunters takes to the field, they're learning the basics of being an outdoorsman for a grade.
"We actually usually do basketball after Christmas," Houcin Elementary teacher Ed Fowlkes said. "You can get in a rut playing dodge ball,"
That's why the basketball hoops are idle and the only shots being taken are at a large cork target.
"We did a pilot program with eight schools and they started calling us, saying we love this thing," Lance Meek with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife said.
Houchin in Moore and a handful of other Oklahoma schools have integrated archery into their everyday curriculum, and students are excited about the new activity.
"Kids who aren't successful in other sports, this may be one they can do for the rest of their life," Fowlkes said.
The discipline and coordination involved in archery are great tools for the students, and the class is something the wildlife department knows will eventually pay big dividends for them in the future.
"There's a whole mindset. You appreciate the sport and resource and when I say resource, I mean the deer running around out there," Meek said.
One of those future hunters may be 4th grader Jake or his older sister, 6th grader Maddie.
"She does pretty good, but sometimes I can beat her, sometimes I can't," Jake said.
The sibling rivalry adds an extra level of fun for these kids, especially when they get a bullseye."Hopefully they'll say ‘I'm interested in this. I want to take it to the next level. I want to be a hunter'," Meek said.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Department has helped Houchin Elementary and other schools get grant money to defer the start up cost in equipment. The elementary school even has an after-school Archery Club.