This coming school year, Richardton-Taylor Public School will join approximately 180 schools across the state in the National Archery in the Schools Program, thanks in large part to parent Brett Gjermundson.

Gjermundson, parent of two Richardton-Taylor students, is an avid archer. He started shooting as a young kid after seeing his neighbors with their bows.

“My interest in archery started just watching a bunch of archers that happened to be in my neighborhood when I was younger,” he said. “I saw those guys and thought it was pretty cool. Because of them, one of my buddies ended up with a bow, and I wanted to shoot with him.”

Gjermundson said NASP has been on his mind since 2010, when he saw it featured on the television show Strickland’s Archery Adventures.

“Every week on his program, he would show a profile of a NASP student of the week, he called it,” he said. “He would just talk about a kid (who was) doing really well in the NASP program and what the NASP program does in the schools … That’s the first I heard about the program, that there was even a national archery program that kids could take part in as part of their school activity.”

Archery is a sport that’s open to a variety of people, regardless of age or size.

“I think archery is just an amazing life-long activity. One of my mentors ... out of Colorado, he’s been trying to draw his bow tag for bullmoose for like 32 years and he just finally got it … He was 77 years old when he went out and did his hunt,” Gjermundson said. “If you enjoy watching arrows fly, shooting targets — you don’t have to be a hunter or anything — you can just have this passion for the sport. You can do it (whether) you’re young or old, big or small; it’s something that everybody can take part in.”

Gjermundson’s young kids are archers, too. His 2nd-grade daughter will be too young for the program, but fifth-grade son would be eligible to participate. The program is open to kids 4th-12th grade, with 3rd graders being allowed with parental permission.

He approached Superintendent Brent Bautz about joining NASP for the 2017-2018 school year, but they decided to wait, as that was the physical education teacher’s first year.

“We just decided (to) let her settle in, get her lesson plans for the year, get comfortable with the school, before we introduce a whole new program that nobody there has ever done before,” Gjermundson said.

Participation in NASP requires the program to be implemented in the school’s PE class.

The new PE teacher, Jordyn Mason, is familiar with the program in schools. She did her student teaching at New England, which is a member of NASP, and saw firsthand how the students loved it.

She said it’s a good sport for kids who maybe don’t traditionally like sports, and it requires some of the same skills such as aiming at a target.

Though the curriculum isn’t finalized, she plans to spend two weeks on archery indoors, beginning with safety.

If enough kids are interested in archery, Richardton may start an after-school team, for which Gjermundson may be one of the coaches. He and Mason will receive training on coaching archery this summer.

The school received a matching grant for NASP of $1,500. Additionally, community members helped provide funds to secure equipment. Gjermundson wanted to thank Red Trail Energy, Cenex of Richardton, Taylor Nursery and Mike Fisher with American Family Insurance in Dickinson.

Local NASP programs are organized through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.