This spring Keith Badger is offering archery as an afternoon class. Keith, who has taught Naturalist, bow making, and science at High Mowing for many years, finds that physical activities such as archery are incredibly important for teenagers, especially after a long day in the classroom.
“Archery was one of the first of the martial arts in many eastern traditions,” says Keith. “Maintaining the discipline of the body and the focus of the mind leads to a very clear emotional state.”
Once they’re done with Afternoon Clean Up, the students make their way over the archery range. They roll out the targets and set them up, unfurl the safety screen behind the targets, and prepare quivers of arrows for each shooting post. They shoot four at a time and the rest of the group watches from behind. Once all the arrows are shot they are retrieved and the next group prepares to shoot.
“These bows are tough, and the students have to keep working at it,” says Keith. “Shooting a bow is really an exercise of will.”
Keith also hopes that the opportunity to shoot a bow will encourage students to join his bow making class. He stresses that being involved from start to finish in the creating of a bow fosters a much deeper understanding of it as a tool. Learning the physics of bow making, he points out, provides invaluable context when picking up the bow and learning to shoot it.
Several students who have been making their own bows will be joining the group after the Spring Musical, Finian’s Rainbow, is complete.
“There’s a tremendous benefit to kids learning to work with their hands,” says Keith. “Next thing you know they’re romping through the woods, they’re playing, they’re directing their own learning. And that’s what it’s all about.”