Archery and Rifle Shooting Programs in NYS Public Schools– Should They be Banned?

Manhattan New York State Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal has authored a bill that would ban riflery, trap shooting, and archery in public schools throughout the state. While her proposal is in response to the rise in gun violence in schools, others believe this is an extreme reaction that will negatively impact students.

These programs provide a sport for students that may not be interested in other sporting activities. Sports like Archery and Rifle Shooting are a part of extracurricular activities at colleges across the country, including Columbia University and John Jay College here in New York City. In addition, some colleges offer scholarships to students who participate in these sporting activities.

In 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation shared that interest in the National Archery in Schools Program is growing in New York State.

“The second annual New York State National Archery in Schools Program tournament was held with great success on March 4 in Utica New York, with 513 students from 23 school districts participating in three divisions: High School, grades 9-12; Middle School, grades 6-8; and Elementary School, grades 4-5.” Although a private school, Staten Island’s own St. Joseph By The Sea took first Place in 2016.

In 2012, the New York City Department of Education partnered with Easton Development Sports Foundation to bring Archery to NYC schools. As part of the partnership, Easton supplied the equipment at no cost to the school. The decision to participate in the program was left up to each individual school and principal.

Staten Island’s Intermediate School 24, offers an afterschool archery program, called Hunger Games, stating, “Archery provides a fundamental relaxation quality in that the archer must be focused on the immediate moment. Archery is a rewarding activity, blending physical and mental resources.

Mrs. Jodi Sanchez commented, “My son is an 8th grader at I.S. 24. He participated in the Archery class last year and he loved it. He liked it so much that he is continuing Archery at the Zimmer Club. He is hoping to participate in an Archery program when he moves on to high school.”

I.S. 24 student Katniss Ricca said, “It was a great experience. I had helpful teachers and made lots of friends. Popping balloons for Barnes and Noble cash and winning the tournament was amazing!”

Another I.S. 24 parent, Mrs. Claudine Jorgensen, praised the program, “My son took the Hunger Games. He loved it so much that it turned him on to Archery and he’s been taking lessons for three years. This program was amazing, introducing my son to safety rules that he would never have learned.”

Assemblywoman Rosenthal introduced this legislation in response to the Parkland, Florida school shooting because the perpetrator participated on the school’s rifle shooting team. The Assemblywoman believes rifle shooting and archery school programs are the catalyst for incidents like Parkland.

Unfortunately, this reaction broad-brushes an entire school athletic program as the direct cause of this violent incident. Assemblywoman Rosenthal does not take into account that an emotional, psychological issue played a pivotal role in this tragedy. This underscores the need for school districts to hire significantly more counselors and incorporate intervention services in schools across the country.

There are no active gun ranges in NYC Department of Education schools and, according to a DOE spokesperson, they do not centrally track school-based student clubs.

By Michael Reilly, Staten Island Community Education Council President and current candidate for South Shore State Assembly.

Staten Island Parent does not assume responsibility for statements and opinions made by writers.