Dave Valle instructs seventh- graders at Portola High on the proper stance for archery. Photos submitted

Archery Program takes flight at Portola Jr/Sr High School

Dave Valle, a retired Portola High teacher, volunteers coaching seventh-graders in archery.

After one sharp whistle blow, the active row of seventh-graders, each holding a compound bow, go quiet as they nock their arrows, pull back the string, take careful aim, and let the arrows fly in the direction of the brightly colored targets 10 meters away.

They cheer the students who hit the center of the target and encourage those who were not as close.

The students are part of a National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) at Portola Jr/Sr High School, being instructed by retired science teacher Dave Valle.

The seventh-graders, about 50 in total, have been out practicing archery once a week, says Valle, who recently retired from Portola High.

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Valle is a certified basic archery instructor, part of the coach training provided by NASP, which has developed archery curriculum for fourth- to 12th-graders. He said that archery builds focus, discipline, patience, and self-control, all of which are skills that transfer into the classroom, and into life.

Valle wanted to bring the archery sport to students, and worked for months to raise the funds for the project. “It takes about $5000 to get the NASP program up and running,” he said. “The kids would not have this opportunity without the support of the community. We’ve been fortunate to receive funds from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Plumas County Fish & Game Commission, Portola resident Tom Rose, Feather River Archery Club, and Sierra Valley Gun Club, as well as other generous donations.” The program would use further support to purchase more left-handed bows and 3D targets.

Portola High seventh-graders take aim.

Something Valle always tries to make students aware of is that 11 percent of all proceeds for the sale of archery (as well as firearm and ammunition) equipment goes to support wildlife through the Pittman-Robertson Act, which in 2019 provided California alone almost $22 million for wildlife conservation.

In the press release it stated that NASP is a great way to get started with archery as it spells out all the steps a school needs to take to implement the program. All teams use the same equipment, to level the playing field. Archery equipment used in program is highly standardized to be safe, durable, economical, and most importantly, a universal fit for almost every student.

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Learning the process of shooting is stressed far more than arrow scores. The only bow used in NASP is a Genesis compound which has no let-off and is adjustable from 10-20 pounds in draw weight at any draw length.

Archery students wait for the whistle blow to retrieve arrows.