By Deborah Svatos
At the Institute of American Indian Arts, a course taken to meet the college’s physical education requirement is becoming quite popular with a number of students who find they enjoy the relaxing qualities of the class.
Once a week on Friday mornings, students gather at the IAIA gym to learn the nuances of archery taught by Randy Neumann. A longtime archer and hunter, Neumann teaches with a mix of humor, guidance and wisdom gleaned from his six years of teaching. He works with each student on their individual strengths and weaknesses within the sport, correcting issues they may have with the tightness of their grip or stance, both being equally important in affecting the shots they fire. There is always encouragement from Neumann and an emphasis on enjoying oneself.
Neumann goes to great lengths to make the class as fun as it can be for students and focuses on helping each one be their very best at the sport. His students respond well to the course and look forward to it each week. Lindsey Toya-Tosa of Jemez Pueblo, who is taking archery this semester appreciates Neumann’s approach to teaching the course.
“Randy is a seriously awesome teacher. He teaches the class in a way that you know it’s always going to be fun every time. He makes sure that each student shoots the best to their ability. He also teaches us a lot of new things and he’s really funny. Overall, he’s just a really great teacher,” said Toya-Tosa.
There is always encouragement from him and an emphasis on enjoying yourself, something that helps make the class as popular as it is.
“Students learn that archery is a process, much like life, and usually enjoy shooting, and use it as a sport that also teaches relaxation and focus. While they are shooting, they usually let the rest of life fade away,” said Neumann.
Neumann’s approach to teaching is well-received among his students as he allows them to enjoy the sport and progress at their own pace. His clear love of teaching and helping students do the best they can shows through in his enthusiasm for his profession.
“I love shooting archery. I find that students who begin shooting archery, learning proper form, pick the sport up quicker and are more successful doing it. I love to see a student’s face when they hit the target for the first time and then when they continue to improve. Teaching gives me the opportunity to help others learn,” said Neumann.
Students who take archery for the first time find the hands-on learning experience and the pressure-free environment a relaxing and engaging experience, and Toya-Tosa agrees.
“I really love the class. I get excited for class on Fridays because I know there’s no pressure to be perfect or to shoot the arrow right into the center target. It’s a class where you can be yourself and not get judged.”