Steps to building a successful NASP archery program

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) is an in-school program that introduces target archery to students in fourth through 12th grades. Every aspect of the NASP experience is geared toward success. Lessons are presented by school faculty who have earned certification as basic archery instructors. The only bow used in NASP is a Genesis compound bow that has no let-off and is adjustable from 10-20 pounds in draw weight at any draw length, and the only arrow used is the 30-inch Easton 1820 aluminum arrow. The equipment is standardized for safety and to accommodate a wide range of archers’ strength and sizes. Schools that participate in NASP can form teams and compete in state, national and world championships.

Becoming an instructor is easy and requires no previous archery experience. NASP Basic Archery Instructor classes are offered regularly throughout the year by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) Archery Education Program. The classes are free and grant money is available to assist with the purchase of school archery kits needed to run the program. Contact Bruce Atencio, NMDGF Archery Education Coordinator, at for more information.

Below: Clovis Christian School’s NASP archery team.

Bruce Vincent is the head coach of the Clovis Christian School’s NASP archery team. Here is a quick peek into how Bruce and his team of coaches have inspired students to excel in and outside of the classroom.

?Clovis Christian is the most successful NASP program in the state. How many tournament trophies has your school won?

We (coach Davis, coach Cordova and myself) have won 19 New Mexico state championship trophies. Our elementary team has won six state championships and one second-place trophy. Our middle school team has won two second-place and two third-place trophies. Our high school team has won six second-place and two third-place trophies. We have had 30 archers finish in the top three. We’ve had 11 individual state champions: five elementary boys, three elementary girls, one middle school boy and girl and one high school boy.

?The first in-person New Mexico NASP State Championship was held in Albuquerque in 2012. The number of competitors has grown from approximately 400 youth archers to 999 archers in 2020 (one of the largest single day youth archery events in the southwest). What year did Clovis Christian start competing?

Our first New Mexico State competition was in March 2014, and we finished fourth in the high school category. 

?How many years have you taught? What subjects?

I taught for 19 years at Clovis Christian as a fourth-grade teacher, fifth-grade teacher and middle school P.E., Bible and science teacher. I was a golf coach for two seasons and the current archery head coach for nine seasons.

?Why did you decide to introduce archery at Clovis Christian?

The Clovis Christian NASP archery program was started in Oct. 2013 by Clyde Davis and myself because we both liked archery and saw it as a sport all the students could participate in. We started with five, old-style targets, practicing outside. Eventually, we got to practice in a small, indoor shooting range with no heat. We started with one team of 15 kids ranging from fifth to 11th grade.

?Why do you think kids keep coming back to your NASP program year after year?

Great school support of the program; great parent support of the program; great dedication from all the coaches. Our coaching philosophy is: we don’t coach to win trophies but to help each archer become the best archer they can be and have fun doing it. We changed the saying “practice makes you perfect” to “perfect practice makes you the best you can be.”

?What impact have you seen in your kids/school community regarding their participation with NASP archery?

The NASP program has been very well-supported by the school administration. The program has been very good for our school because it gives elementary students an opportunity to participate in school sports and compete at the state level. This helps prepare them to participate in other sports. Also, some families enrolled their children into the school just so they could participate in archery. It has been a challenge to keep kids on the teams as they progressed through school, because being a private school and in a military community, there is a very large turnover of students each year. The archery program has more student participation than any other sport in the school. On average, we have had from 39 to 49 kids participating during different years. We only had two coaches each year coaching all three teams at the same time.

?How has your team/individuals fared at the national tournaments?

We have qualified and participated in the national tournaments six times. The elementary team finished fourth in the 3D tournament in 2019 with only a couple of weeks of practice. The elementary team finished third in the national Centershot tournament in 2016.

About Bruce Atencio

Bruce Atencio is the Archery Education Coordinator for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.