Stow Recreation Department Creates an Archery Program Thanks to a Grant From The Easton Foundations

By Perry Smith

Echoing a trend that coaches and sports officials are starting to see more and more of nationally, Stow Recreation Department’s Laura Greenough says she’s seen her archery program really take off over the last few years.

“I think ‘The Hunger Games’ definitely made a difference as far as people getting excited about it, and making (the bow and arrow) for more than people who just use it for bow hunting,” Greenough said.  With help from a $5,000 grant from the Easton Sports Development Foundation, Stow has been able to create a program that’s introduced dozens of kids to archery over the last three years.  “We run a variety of programs throughout the year for children, adults, teens and seniors, from arts to sports camps,” she said. “We started it in the fall with eight kids.”

It’s not just about Hollywood — there were actually a few factors that helped play a role in the growth of archery in the small Northeastern town.  But the $5,000 Easton Sports Development Foundation grant was also a big help, she said. The movies may have helped spark the interest in the sport, but the grant has helped sustain the recreation department’s ability to offer the sport.

“We didn’t have an archery program at all,” Greenough said, “and we created a full-day summer camp for our community, and that’s why I applied for the grant.”

The archery offering started as a summer pastime, but it’s grown into a sport that’s garnering almost year-round interest. “We don’t have an indoor space, yet, to have a winter session — but we run all other seasons.”

The Easton Sports Development Foundation grant has helped the recreation department get the stands, targets, bows, arrows and some of the other equipment the program needed. “And we were able to start it through the summer program and now we’ve expanded it to spring classes and summer programs, and archery programs for children and adults,” she said.

“The kids at the camp loved it,” Greenough said. “We have parents signing up because the kids at the camp loved it — people started asking, ‘When are you offering it again?’”

Of course, the sports popularity has only been boosted by Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, the bow-and-arrow wielding sharpshooter of a hero who repeatedly saves the day in “The Hunger Games” book and movie trilogy. The popular movies have also played a role in the sport gaining popularity among girls, as well as boys.

“We get a lot of girls signing up for the program, which is nice, it gives them options, another program to do,” she said. “We get our share of boys, as well, but a lot more girls signed up than expected.”

The movies are making the sport more accessible, which is also what the recreation department is trying to do with the help of the Easton Sports Development Foundation. “I just feel like, with ‘The Hunger Games,’ and with our being able to offer it, especially in our summer camp, it helps show that anybody can do it,” she said. “It just takes a little bit of practice.”