Budding archers take lessons from police ‘PALs’

See how the Police Activities League is helping outer East Portland youth to safely learn  the sporting use of bows and arrows – even during the winter months …

Portland Police Bureau Youth Services Division Officer Harold Hays strings a bow, in preparation for the archery class about to begin at the Police Activities League center.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Shooting arrows into distant target with a bow might seem like an outdoor, summer-only sport. But now, at the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) Police Activities League (PAL) center – on the border of outer East Portland and Gresham – they’re now teaching archery year-around.

“We offer several different sports at our PAL Summer Camp every year,” explained PPB Youth Services Division Officer Harold Hays, as he and a half-dozen other officers set up for a class in the PAL gym on February 16.

-2 Archery tournament champ and National Field Archery Association certification instructor Mike Brown gives officers tips, before the students step up to the shooting line.

“Archery is always the first sport activity to ‘fill up’ during our camps,” Hays added. “After several years of having more kids who want to participate then we have available spots, I talked to the PAL director and to some of my supervisors, to see about putting together a year-’round program.”

Has said his instructor is archery champion Mike Brown, who has been involved in starting many archery programs. “With his help, we got a grant from the Easton Corporation. Instead of our having to write a check to purchase an indoor archery setup, one day a big truck pulled up – and it delivered everything we need to teach indoor archery.”

Teaching by doing”, police officers get ready to shoot a volley of arrows at the targets.

Indeed, the Easton Corporation supplied more than just a couple of bows and arrows – they provided a dozen setups – in addition to targets and backdrop netting. “They were very generous to us,” smiled Hayes, “and we are very appreciative of their support.”

As set-up continued, Mike Brown introduced himself, admitting, “I’m Hank’s instructor; he’s now certified with the National Field Archery Association as both a Level 1 Instructor to teach archery – and also as a Level 2 Instructor, able to train Level 1 Instructors.”

Having retired from the US Army in 2009, Brown said he became a certified archery instructor in addition to being a competitor at tournaments. When asked how he ranks, Brown responded, “I won the 2009 National Indoor Archery Championship, and the 2010 National Indoor Archery Championship.”

Outer East Portland PPB Neighborhood Response Team Officer Joe Young shows how carefully and safely to retrieve the arrows from a target.

After having taught for ten years, Brown told East Portland News, “I love archery as well as teaching the sport. While Oregon is a great bow-hunting State, there’s not much target archery.  It’s been my mission to get youth interested in target archery. I’m doing this by helping to establish programs like this one, or parks and recreational departments, such as in the Rogue Valley and other areas.”

Brown insisted that Hays was the chief instructor of the day, and that he was there to help support him and the other officers who are now certified to teach archery, as the young bowmen nearby started learning the sport.

Archery isn’t as dangerous a sport as some might imagine, Hays commented. “Statistically, archery is one of the safest sports. More people are injured every year playing golf or fishing than are hurt in archery. We teach students how to remove arrows from the targets first – carelessly removing arrows from the target provides the greatest chance for injury.”

Showing great enthusiasm, budding archers select their bows.

Six police officers are currently certified to teach the youngsters, and more will be trained in March, Hays explained. It’s a good thing – so many kids signed up for the classes, they lined the entire west wall of the gym, awaiting their turn to take a bow, step up to the firing line, and shoot arrows.

Having enjoyed archery himself for more than 25 years, Hays said, he continues to love the sport. “The thing I like about archery is that, while it’s a competitive sport, you’re primarily competing with yourself, as you work to improve. It’s all about consistency – learning to do the same right things over and over again. It teaches the kids self-discipline, and self-esteem.”

Wilkes Elementary second-grader Esyah draws back the string on his bow, ready to shoot.

As the first round of young archers stepped up to the shooting line, Hays added, “Archery teaches kids about healthy competition, so they learn how to compete in a positive way. They compete as a team, but they also compete as individuals.”

On command, a volley of arrows flew downrange – some of them hitting the targets, others of them sliding along the gym floor. Regardless, the smiles of the faces of these young archers portended that archery would prove to be a popular addition to the year-around activities at the PAL center.

These PAL kids show good form and awareness of safety, as they let their arrows fly toward the targets, thanks to the instruction they’ve received.

Learn more about PAL
If you have a school-age child who’d benefit from PAL’s positive after-school activities – or would like to support this non-profit organization – see their website: CLICK HERE. It’s located at 424 Northeast 172nd Avenue. Call (503) 256-3479 for more information.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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