More than three dozen Prosper students of all ages recently had the opportunity to learn the basics of archery from July 10-13 with the help of coach Darren Snyder.

Snyder has led the rise of archery as a sport at Prosper over the past three years. During his camp, children get to shoot compound bows as well as crossbows at targets to hone their skills.

“Archery gives more kids a place to go and something to be a part of,” Snyder said. “Without archery, some kids might get lost in the shuffle.”

Alongside camp assistant Dan Mannering, an outdoor adventures teacher at Harbor Creek Junior High School, Snyder likes to keep things fun during summer camp. Instead of shooting at basic targets, Snyder and Mannering use everything from balloons to photos of zombies to keep things interesting. To end the day, campers get a cold, refreshing snack to combat the summer heat.

“They enjoy it because it’s something different,” Snyder said. “I think that’s a big thing, to get those new experiences. They probably don’t get that stuff at the regular archery club.”

Snyder and Mannering first met coaching football and track together more than two decades ago. For the archery summer camp, Mannering provides a decade of experience and has led Harbor Creek’s archery program to a pair of middle school state championships.

“I knew he was the guy to bring in to help me out,” Snyder said. “To be honest, he really leads the camp. In the process, he’s learned from me, but I’ve definitely learned more from him.”

There are many benefits that archery provides. Because it’s non-contact, it’s arguably the safest of all sports. It also doesn’t require a high level of athleticism, allowing both boys and girls who usually wouldn’t be interested in sports to compete and learn something new alongside their peers. All these factors combine to give students another unique avenue to try something new in school.

“It affects more than just your student athletes who can go out there and do anything,” Mannering said. “With enough practice, anyone can be good at archery. It allows everybody to get involved.”

Snyder credits Becky Hedges, a parent at Prosper Independent School District, for helping kickstart the archery program. Hedges was originally from Kentucky, a state where archery is much more popular than in Texas. Snyder had previous experience in archery and thought it would be a perfect fit at Prosper.

Last year was the inaugural archery season at the high school, and Snyder said he hopes it can be as successful as the middle school program, which has competed at state and national tournaments already. Some students will be attending the NASP world tournament in Orlando from July 21-22.

“Last season was the first time I ever saw Prosper schools at the state archery tournament,” Mannering said. “I hope to see the program continue to grow and succeed.”

Snyder is leaving Prosper after six years as head wrestling coach and heading to Frisco Reedy High School to be closer to his family. He said he’s willing to help as much as he can to keep archery going at Prosper in future years, but also hopes the school is committed to do the same long-term.

“I think we have great community and parental support,” Snyder said. “I feel very confident that they’ll make efforts to ensure that archery does continue in Prosper.”