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Gun Bill Defunds Hunter Education and Archery Programs in U.S. Public Schools

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Gun Bill Defunds Hunter Education and Archery Programs in U.S. Public Schools

Posted 2023-08-18  by  Stephanie Mallory

The NASP president is hopeful there will be a solution to the funding cuts

Image: Range

The federal government has defunded NASP and hunter education programs in public schools. Image provided by NASP

The U.S. Congress passed a bill last year designed to address gun-related violence, but it has inadvertently defunded archery and hunter education programs in public schools throughout the country. Sportsmen and women are, of course, upset about this, but National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) President Thomas Floyd told he’s hopeful there will be a solution.

The U.S. Department of Education says it plans to withhold federal funds from elementary and secondary school hunter education and archery programs based on its interpretation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) passed last year following a number mass shootings like the one in Uvalde, Texas.

The act features language that prohibits federal funding from providing “training in the use of dangerous weapons.”

Funding for shooting sports, such as hunter safety programs and the NASP earmarked under a 1965 law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), will be blocked across the country.

In a statement to Fox News, the Education Department said, “This prohibition applies to all ESEA funds. The prohibition went into effect immediately on June 25, 2022, and applies to all existing and future awards under all ESEA programs…. The Department is administering the bipartisan law as written by Congress.”

U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R – Texas) and Thom Tillis (R – North Carolina), who co-wrote the bill have written Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to say that was not what the bill intended.

Their letter said that the Department of Education misinterpreted the act to defund schools that provide hunter education and archery programs. The letter said those programs are used by “thousands of students to develop life skills, learn firearm safety, and build self-esteem.”

The Sportsmen’s Alliance has issued a call for action, saying, “Your Congressman and U.S. Senator hold the key. Tell them you are counting on them to do three things: Immediately restore educational funding for programs that support the outdoors, conservation, and hunting. Immediately commit to overturning Biden’s hunter education ban. Announce your support publicly to help build momentum throughout Congress to get this done.”

Floyd says NASP has been asked to give background info on the program and just wants all to know that NASP has a 21-year record of providing safe archery experiences for 21 million students. The program promotes instruction in international-style target archery as part of in-school curriculum for grades 4 through 12.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority, and we are not critical of anyone doing anything to keep kids safe,” Floyd says. “But we do covet the opportunity to show how we’ve benefitted the communities. We have an unblemished safety record. This past year, we’ve trained 1.3 million students in just under 9,000 schools. We have trained 104,000 instructors in the basics of archery and have passed along $4 million in scholarships for post-secondary education.”

Floyd says children around the age of 12 to 14 are beginning to discover who they are and archery can play an invaluable role in their confidence and sense of accomplishment.

“The kids who participate in NASP are contagiously excited about archery,” said Floyd. “Then under the tutelage of a mentor, they learn far more than just the act of shooting. They learn focus, responsibility, team work, how to deal with success and failure, and how to represent their school.”

Floyd said last year that 34,000 kids were recognized as academic archers for their success on their school’s archery team and in the classroom.

“Archery can benefit a child with physical, mental or emotional challenges. It can help those who have endured stress and trauma find peace. It also encourages students to pursue other outdoor adventures.”

Floyd says they are just asking for the opportunity explain the benefits of the program to those who hold the keys to federal funding.

“We are just asking for an opportunity to showcase the program. We’re not claiming to be the end all be all, but we’ve provided 21 years of success for kids. We are hopeful that there is a solution in the future when it comes to federal funding.”

Floyd explains that each state’s NASP is different when it comes to funding. Some have received federal funding in the past and some have not. He said the halt in federal funding for the states that typically receive it has caused “pause and worry.”

But Floyd says he has recently felt encouraged because there’s been “a flurry to provide a solution.”

“I am hopeful. We just want to see more kids experience success by participating in this program.”

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