TAHLEQUAH – Nate Bunch, the Cherokee Nation’s Education Services School and Community Outreach specialist and archery coordinator, manages the Joe Thornton Archery Range located just west of the tribal complex.
The archery range is a 70-meter Olympic-style range that offers several shooting bays as well as a raised platform to simulate shooting from a tree stand and a walking 3-D range. Visitors of all ages and experience are welcome to shoot at the range, which is open from daylight to dark seven days a week and free of charge.
As the archery coordinator, Bunch, along with other educators, travel to schools and community events to teach the importance of learning the Cherokee culture by presenting the opportunity to participate in cultural activities. Bunch’s area of expertise is in the archery field where he has five years of prior teaching experience.
“When we go out into the schools and introduce archery, a lot of times it’s some of the kids first time to ever pick up a bow,” he said. “Just to see them get to experience something that’s been an integral part of the Cherokee tradition for hundreds of years and being able to be with them when they first do that is a real honor to me.”
Bunch uses archery to not only teach cultural skills to students but also as an opportunity to promote confidence and self-esteem building.
“When they hit the target they’re amazed, they’re pumped and they’re excited. Their friends, their peers they’re all excited with them so, it’s a lot of fun” he said. “To me personally, I enjoy being with kids and watching them learn. For me to be out there and be part of them with archery it’s something that I really, really enjoy.”
This story was originally published in Cherokee Phoenix and republished with permission.