The class at George Washington attracted 20 teachers from 18 different schools. Fayette County's Meadow Bridge High School sent two. They were phys-ed teacher Steve Hambrick and math teacher Ben Bone.
"This is the first year our school has had the program," Hambrick said. "The elementary school has had the program for quite a while, and now that the kids from the elementary school are getting into middle and high school, they're asking to have programs there as well."
Bone said the school's bows, arrows, targets, safety net and other equipment has already been purchased. "As soon as Steve and I are certified, we can start teaching," he added.
Brenda Albright, the phys-ed and special-ed teacher at Randolph County's Pickens School, said the AIS program represents the tiny K-through-12 school's only opportunity to participate in interscholastic sports.
"We just don't have enough kids for basketball or any other sport," she said. "Our archery squad is our only team of any kind. We've had it for three years now, and we've had kids qualify for the state and national tournaments."
Teachers aren't the only ones interested in becoming certified. Archery-shop owners, eager to support local schools' teams, are sending people to be trained. So are archery and bow-hunting clubs.
"They're getting certified so they can open their shops' or clubs' ranges after hours so the schools' kids can practice," Snodgrass explained. "They want to have the training so they can be consistent with what the phys-ed teachers are teaching."
The demand for certified instructors has become so great DNR officials are now going into colleges to certify phys-ed majors before they graduate.
"We've done workshops at Concord and Wheeling Jesuit [universities]. And we had a kid in [the George Washington training class] from West Virginia State," Snodgrass said.
As the AIS program continues to expand to new schools, DNR officials might find themselves forced to expand their training staff.
"Right now there are just three of us, and each of us has other job responsibilities in addition to Archery in the Schools," Snodgrass said. "We're getting close to having demand outstrip our ability to do courses. We did six of them last year, and we wish we could have done more."
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.