Homeschoolers know what it’s like to fight discrimination. But what happens when the target keeps getting moved?

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) promotes instruction in archery as part of in-school curriculum. Since 2002, there have been about 19 million students who have participated in NASP, and a lot of those have been homeschoolers.

Many homeschool co-ops have added an archery component to their other classes and provide opportunities for homeschool teams to compete at both state and national levels. NASP based its homeschool team formation policy on co-op membership—in other words, homeschoolers competed with their co-op, without a geographic restriction.

Making Changes

Over the last few years, though, NASP has kept moving the target, making it harder for homeschool co-ops to participate.

Back in 2014, the rule was pretty simple: a student who was homeschooled could only participate if the homeschool enrolled in NASP and provided NASP archery lessons. But the rules kept getting tweaked, and in 2020, these tweaks caused a major problem when homeschoolers got lumped in under a new category called “non-traditional schools.”

Under the new rule, “All NASP archers on a non-traditional school team must reside in the county, parish, or borough the school represents.”

For many non-traditional schools, this may make sense; but for homeschool groups, it simply does not.

Free Association

Homeschoolers are not bound by county lines in the co-ops that they attend. When I was being homeschooled in the late 1980s, our weekly co-op was two counties away. My own children have attended co-ops both in our county and outside.

One co-op in Alabama that contacted HSLDA included students from at least three counties. Between 25 and 30 total students in this co-op (including middle school and high school) participate in archery. Because a minimum of 12 archers are required to field a team, no one county would have enough interest for a team.

Similarly, a co-op in Kentucky wrote to us, saying that its NASP team includes students from neighboring counties. Under the new rule, it was unable to form a full team. Not only that, but its homeschoolers had to now participate in two different tournaments, since not all counties could participate in just one.

Fairness at Issue

HSLDA contacted NASP, offering our assistance to fix the policy. We received a quick non-answer, basically saying, “Well, that’s the rule for this year.”

However, they did offer to “consider your recommendations to help us in the creation of a set of rules that would be more reflective of the fairness and equity that we seek for all.”

So we’re working on recommendations now—recommendations that will actually work for homeschoolers.

If your co-op has an archery program, or had one in the past before NASP changed its rules so that homeschoolers no longer have a fair shot, we’d like to hear from you about your archery experience. Email me at LegalG@hslda.org.