By Erik Barber
Increasing the hunting population is a priority for hunter-based organizations, and few groups offer a better pipeline for license-buying conservationists than the Scholastic 3-D Archery program.
Dirk Dieterich, S3DA president, sees a direct correlation with more license sales in states with strong S3DA programs. That’s because S3DA offers a multi-discipline program that helps beginners grow as archers, whether their focus is target, bowhunting or 3D archery.
“S3DA helps new archers understand what excites them,” Dieterich said. “With S3DA, you can … focus on whichever disciplines you enjoy most.”
The organization is easily accessible, and participants can use whatever gear they have, whether it’s for 5–spot indoors or 3D targets outdoors. And if you’re mostly interested in learning conservation practices, S3DA welcomes your participation. Visit S3DA.org to find a coordinator who represents your area, and will help you get involved.
Unlike most organizations, S3DA focuses only on youths. At the Texas S3DA championships in March, for example, 24 youngsters received a free hunt from the Texas Wildlife Association and Texas Youth Hunt Program. Roger Koss, S3DA’s Western coordinator and Texas’ statewide coordinator, said the hunts are great opportunities for children who lack a mentor. These new hunters are paired with guides who help at every step.
You don’t need to be a Texan to take advantage of the state’s youth hunting opportunities. Resident and nonresident youth licenses cost only $7, and a youth hunt guided by the program costs $150, which makes Texas a good destination for young hunters.
“If you’re a parent who isn’t familiar with hunting, that’s fine,” Koss said. “If you want to teach a youth hunter about providing sustainable meat but you aren’t sure where to start, Texas Wildlife Association is the way to go.”
The benefits of working with S3DA seem endless, but Scott Hamlin, owner of Leading Edge Archery in Boerne, Texas, said it’s important to keep recruiting archers.
“Archery is what I call a ‘life sport,’” Hamlin said. “I picked up a bow when I was 8 years old, and I’m now 51 and still competing at a pretty high level. Unlike other sports that usually end after high school, or in some cases college or the professional (level) for gifted athletes, archery (lets) you compete and (succeed) your entire life.”
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