Brownstown archery team participating in St. Jude fundraiser Saturday

BROWNSTOWN — Brownstown Central Community School Corp.’s inaugural archery tournament is going to help kids in a couple of ways.

For one, the fourth- through 12th-graders will gain experience of a competition, even if it’s a virtual format.

Secondly, proceeds from donations given by attendees will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Brownstown is among schools around the world participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program St. Jude E-Championship Charity Tournament Series, which started Feb. 1 and ends Feb. 28.

In that time frame, schools can host their own tournament and submit their scores. On March 3, the worldwide results will be released at all three levels: Elementary school, middle school and high school.

Brownstown archers will compete between 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday in the gymnasium at Brownstown Central Middle School, 520 W. Walnut St.

Dawn Edwards, the NASP coordinator for BCCSC, said first, second and third place in each division will be awarded.

The public is invited to attend, and it’s requested they donate at least $1 at the door to support the children’s hospital.

“This to me was a good way to introduce them to what to expect without the fear and the stress of knowing that your opponent is literally right there and you don’t know this person,” Edwards said. “Plus, it benefits St. Jude at the same time, and when I saw that, I was like, ‘That’s it right there. This is what I need for these kids.’ This gives them that first time to get a feel of what’s going to happen, what is expected of them.”

Archery started at Brownstown schools in the 2020-21 school year, as students learned about the sport in a physical education class unit.

They also were introduced to NASP, which is an in-school program aimed at improving educational performance among students in grades 4 to 12. Through it, students are learning focus, self-control, discipline, patience and the life lessons required to be successful in the classroom and in life, according to

The next step was to give kids a chance to be on a school archery team. Signups were conducted in the fall of 2021, and weekly practices began shortly after.

Edwards said the roster has grown to 54 elementary students, 47 middle-schoolers and 12 high-schoolers.

“It’s incredible. It’s astounding,” she said. “I did not realize how big the program was when it was handed over to me. I had been the one teaching the classes in the middle school and here (at the elementary), but I really didn’t have the concept of how many students were going to sign up when I set this up.”

What does she credit to the high numbers?

“I think it’s the NASP process in school altogether,” she said. “We make it fun, we make it challenging and they are immediately learning as soon as we bring it into the PE session of our school system.”

She also said it worked out great to give the students paperwork to sign up for the team while they were doing the archery unit in PE. That way, they could take it home to their parents to fill out and return.

“The kids were amped up, psyched up because they were getting it in PE and then getting to take the paperwork home (to join the team),” Edwards said.

The BCCSC roster consists of boys and girls, including a few kids with special needs. That makes Edwards particularly happy because she is an aide in the special education classroom at the elementary.

“It has been fun watching the kids grow with manners because something that I strive for is manners and good sportsmanship, so they know what’s expected of them,” she said. “They know that I expect them to be polite to each other, show respect to each other. They know that I don’t play around. When I’m being serious, it’s that time.”

She also has liked seeing them make new friends and become good teammates and also improve their archery skills at the same time.

“They respect the coaching. They respect the rules, the safety of it all. They’ve grown in all kinds of ways,” Edwards said. “Their abilities, I’ve watched these kids go from they would first shoot and there would be a floor covered in arrows to now when they shoot those distances, there’s not an arrow on the ground, they will hit the target and now, they’ve gotten it to where they make it fun for themselves.”

As of Tuesday, Edwards had more than 60 archers signed up for Saturday’s tournament. She expected that number to grow.

Each student will have three rounds of five shots apiece at 10 meters and then do the same thing at 15 meters.

“I’m scared to death, but I’m excited, too,” Edwards said of organizing her first tournament and the students competing for the first time. “The kids are excited. They are nervous because this is their first one, but they are excited for it to happen, so I can’t wait to see how they do. It’s going to give our kids some experience but also help out St. Jude. It’s helping children. I think that’s perfect.”

Edwards said she is working on scheduling at least one tournament per month until the end of the school year. Then the program will pick back up in August with signups, and the plan is to enter some NASP qualifying tournaments next school year.

“This is a good way for them to test themselves, to make certain that they are good sports and they are going to do what they need to do — show respect and honor, show their pride and earn the right and privilege to go out to other schools,” she said.

With the solid first-year numbers and students now being able to earn school credits for spending at least 60 hours on archery in a school year, Edwards expects the program to keep growing.

”I expect our numbers will probably double simply for the fact that we’ll have all of the third grade students that are going to be coming up into the fourth grade,” she said. “Then all of our eighth-graders going into ninth grade, which we have quite a few eighth-graders, and then 10th and up are all going to be brought into the system because they are going to know the availability of it and because they get credits for that.”

If you go 

What: National Archery in the Schools Program St. Jude E-Championship Charity Tournament Series

When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Gymnasium at Brownstown Central Middle School, 520 W. Walnut St., Brownstown

Who: Members of the Brownstown Central Community School Corp. archery team in grades 4 to 12 will compete; the public is invited to attend

Cost: Requested donation of at least $1 for admission with proceeds benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital