Holy Rosary physical education teacher Bruce Daniels assists third-grader Everlee Nazer. Nazer, who “really enjoyed archery class,” said she liked learning the steps of shooting an arrow. “Mr. Daniels taught us about God during our archery classes,” she added. (Submitted photo)
Catholic Herald Staff
One of the primary characteristics of a Catholic education is the incorporation of Christian faith and morality. This includes subject matter such as building the foundation of a life on the Word of God, developing a life of prayer and confidence in God, striving to live like Christ, serving him and others and always being open to personal growth and conversion.
It is no surprise, then, that these themes were all taught as part of a recent program at Holy Rosary School in Medford. What might be surprising is the person teaching was the school’s physical education teacher, Bruce Daniels.
Daniels introduced students to the sport of archery, in line with the certified National Archery in School Program, but with the added element of Christian faith.
He did that through Centershot, a supplementary program with the motto “Making Christ the Target of our Lives.” As described on their website, the organization is a non-denominational outreach program that shares the Gospel of Jesus through the life-skill of archery.
“The Centershot program builds on NASP and adds the faith component,” Daniels told the Catholic Herald. “It is amazing to me how inclusive this program is, and I certainly take my hat off to the people that developed it.”
One of the components is the “Life Bow,” a color-coded bow (or applicable diagram) where each component of the bow represents a different part of the Christian faith. For example, red represents Jesus, white signifies purity and the black components represent sin. Other elements include blue for the water of baptism; green for growing in faith; a multicolored string for the Word of God and Holy Spirit’s action; and gold, which represents heaven, the ultimate target to shoot for.
Daniels shared that they teach how the word “sin” in its origin is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark,” but “by far the thing that jumped out at me when I started to learn about the life bow was the red center of the bow known as a ‘riser.’ We point this out in class and point out that the person at the center of our life, Jesus, is also a riser (referring to his resurrection from the dead).”
Eleven steps to archery success are paired with talking points for connecting students with God’s word. Daniels’ wife, Angela, was very involved with this portion of the program in particular.
He explained that the curriculum calls for instruction prior to shooting. Then, the instructor works one-on-one with each student until he is certain the student has a handle on and is focused on the 11 steps.
“While I was doing that,” Daniels said, “Angela would go over the religious parallel with the students that were waiting. She reinforced the discussion we have prior to going to the range, and it helped a lot.”
The steps include, in order: stance, nock arrow, draw hand set, bow hand set, pre-draw, draw, anchor, aim, shot set-up, release, follow through and reflect.
Stance parallels needing a firm foundation in life, the Word of God being essential for a good foundation. Pre-draw relates to prayer and the importance of a relationship with him that gives confidence in his presence and support. The aim is always Christ and his will for one’s life.
The shot set-up brings in the element of sin and the enemy’s influence. “The enemy wants to distract us,” Daniels said. “If we have a great stance (a firm foundation), are anchored and aimed at Christ, then we need to push past distractions and stay focused on God so we can hit the target.”
With the last step of follow through and reflect, students are taught the importance of remaining in God’s word, following through with his Word in the Bible and prayer, and responding to how he is leading.
“Ask yourself, where did I make mistakes and how can I do better in the future? This is particularly important for us at Holy Rosary,” he added, “as our motto is ‘Each student matters, every moment counts, Christ at the center.’
“What better way to illustrate this to our students?” he added.
Principal Theresa Easterly, who participated at the range a few times herself, said, “It was a wonderful experience … Mr. Daniels and his wife did such an amazing job with the kids.”
“I am truly grateful for the implementation of this program. Everything reminds us that Christ is in the center of all we do,” Easterly commented. “We are truly blessed to be able to give the children this opportunity.”
Daniels also wanted to be sure and mention his appreciation to the local Knights of Columbus chapter. They provided funding for the program, which included Daniels getting certified to teach basic archery and purchasing the Centershot Program and Life Bow.
He also acknowledged the involvement and sponsorship of the Medford Archery Club, who opened their facility and provided the use of their equipment for Holy Rosary students. The Medford Archery Club is located less than a half-mile from the school.
“Without the assistance of the Medford Archery Club, we would not have been able to get started this year,” Daniels said. “While there are grants available to start a program like this, we simply would not have had time.”
The NASP/Centershot curriculum is required to be included in the physical education program of participating schools. However, the Medford Archery Club sponsored all of the equipment and facilities to run the program. Additionally, the club invited students in grade four and higher to participate and compete.
“A significant invitation,” Daniels acknowledged, “as over the past several years, Medford has sent several archers to national-level tournaments.”
Daniels said that archery offers something for everyone, young and old alike. The program, which is also used by church groups, is very safe and well documented for instruction.
“It offers a lifetime skill to our student and opportunity to contemplate just how involved in our lives Jesus is,” the teacher noted. “In my case, I have to say that it has simply reinforced that Jesus Christ truly is at the center of all we do.”
He is excited that after sharing about the program with his sister, who is active with her church in Arkansas, she is pursuing it in her state.
“As rewarding as teaching at Holy Rosary School is, I would have to that this program is one of the most valuable to me personally,” Daniels affirmed.
He said students still ask almost daily when they can bow-shoot again: “When the bow is in their hands, they are learning a skill, technique, consistently and the riser is right there in their hands.”
More information about Centershot can be found at www.centershot.org. Anyone interested in the program can contact Daniels through Holy Rosary School at or by calling the office at 715-748-3336.
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