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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Archery Shoots Up in Popularity Among Americans

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A young archer in training
A young archer in training

Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC.

I'm June Simms.

On the show today, we speak with guitarist Juan DeVevo from the group Casting Crowns, and hear music from their first acoustic album.

We also tell about YouTube's latest efforts to grow with the times.

But first we hear about a centuries old sport that is once again gaining popularity.

The bow and arrow was the weapon of choice for hunters and fighters around the world for tens of thousands of years. Guns began to replace bows and arrows about four hundred years ago. However, archery never disappeared and recently the sport has become popular again. And, as Karen Leggett tells us serious archers say the new interest will continue to develop.

Twelve-year-old Bethanie Ford started Archery training seven weeks ago. She had read the wildly popular book "The Hunger Games." The hero of the story is a teenage girl skilled with a bow and arrow.

"It's not easy. It is hard. You have to keep trying and get it right, but it is fun."

Bethanie's mother, Amy Borst, believes archery is the right sport for her daughter.

"It's a very independent sport. It's not a team sport, so she can go on her own pace. She can concentrate and focus a little bit better because she has to learn to really focus instead of just shooting the arrow immediately. She has to really focus and take her time. I think that applies to school work as well."

That inner focus also appeals to 6th-grader Russell Sperks.

"If I make a goal and I achieve it, then that gives me just a sense of accomplishment."

Their archery teacher is Ruth Rowe. She was a member of the 1984 United States Olympic archery team. She notes that archery is almost opposite of other sports, which often require speed or agility.

"Be calm, centered within yourself. It's very, very quiet. It's very, very still."

Interest in the sport expanded when the U.S. men's archery team won the silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. But, Ruth Rowe says Hollywood was even more important to the sport's renewal.

"Considering that the Hunger Games movies are not going away, 'Brave' is not going away. There are now TV shows that have people doing archery in the shows. I think there is so much video and ways to see it now that didn't exist a little bit ago."

Ms. Rowe says archery is also a great sport to begin later in life.

"It's parallel to golf in that it's a precision sport. It is a life-long sport. We have people starting in their 50s and 60s and they can enjoy it."

Charles Rendleman is one of those older archers. He got involved in the sport when his teenage sons started archery training four years ago. Now, Mr. Rendleman is a coach.

"One of things I really like about archery is that it offers personal development. As an archer I can pay attention to what's going on within my concentration and coordination, and work on that."

That, says Ruth Rowe, is just part of the sport's guiding ideas.

"Every arrow is a discrete entity. Every time you have a chance to start over new. If you make a mistake, the hard part is emotionally letting go of the mistake and get on to the next arrow to do it the way you need to do it."

A life lesson that is right on target.

YouTube is no longer the website that only shows home videos of babies and animals. YouTube now has high-tech production studios in New York, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo. The aim is to improve the quality of what the website has to offer. Today we take you on a trip to the YouTube studio in Los Angeles.

YouTube studios aim to increase viewership
YouTube studios aim to increase viewership

​​It was an intense day of filming on the set of "Video Game High School." The show is aimed at people around the world. But it is not shown on television. It can be seen only on the Internet. Jimmy Wong is one of the show's actors.

"This is a feature length web series that has the production budget of something much larger scale and something on par quality-wise with what you would see on television."

Jimmy Wong's brother Freddie directs "Video Game High School." The actor says the show's fans donated more than 800,000 dollars through the Internet so his brother could produce the second season. Most fans made a donation of five to 15 dollars.

"He has over 3 million subscribers on YouTube so that's definitely a huge fan base to pull from and a lot of those fans are age 13 to 17. On the younger side of things."

Malik Ducard works for YouTube - Google. He says people 35 years and under are now going to the Internet to get entertainment programming.

"That core demographic uses YouTube often as their first window or a window that they're watching while they're watching television."

Jimmy Wong says more and more people are getting their entertainment from smart phones and computers.

"The newer generation doesn't want to wait around and it's just something that's programmed into us now that if you want to see something, if you want to figure out what it is, oogle it or YouTube it."

YouTube is trying to give the Internet generation better looking content, or programming, with four production centers around the world. The forty-thousand square meter space in Los Angeles in

YouTube's largest. It is filled with high-tech cameras and lighting equipment. Liam Collins heads YouTube Space LA.

"We want more viewers tuning in and we believe that higher quality, more ambitious content will serve that goal."

YouTube chooses a few content creators and lets them use the production studio for free. "Video Game High School" is not the only show produced at YouTube Space LA. Olga Kay once made videos at her home. Those films were successful. Now, she makes comedies at YouTube's studio.

"I think in the next five years we're going to see a lot of merging. A lot of Hollywood stars are transitioning to YouTube."

Movie and television studios are also using the Internet and YouTube to advertise their shows and even web-based content. YouTube fans like Danelle Assanelli say unlike TV they can comment on web shows online and even give the creator advice.

"You can actually interact with these people. It's more personal to us.

YouTube Google's Malik Ducard says the Internet opens up worldwide audiences to both established Hollywood studios and filmmakers new to the business.

The Christian rock band Casting Crowns has launched a concert tour of eighteen American cities and towns. The band is playing in places where its members have never performed before. And they are performing for hundreds of people, not thousands.

Another difference: Casting Crowns is performing acoustically, without electric guitars and a big sound system. The tour is part of a campaign to publicize the group's new album, "The Acoustic Sessions: Volume One."

Christopher Cruise attended a sold-out Casting Crowns concert last Saturday in Williamsport, Maryland. He has more about the group.

Casting Crowns has performed throughout the United States and around the world. The band has won three Grammy awards and two American Music Awards. Last year, Casting Crowns won Billboard Magazine awards for Top Christian Artist and Top Christian Album.

The group has sold more than 5 million records.

Casting Crowns
Casting Crowns

​​The band's big, powerful songs are well-known to anyone who listens to Christian radio stations in the United States. They include "East To West," "Who Am I?," "Voice of Truth," "Lifesong," and this song, one of their biggest hits, "Praise You In This Storm."

Casting Crowns was formed in 1999 in Florida by Mark Hall, its lead singer and songwriter. Most of its members are now based in Georgia. And, as Mark Hall noted during the show I attended, he and the other members still work Sunday through Wednesday as clergymen. The band considers its performances an extension of what they do during the week.

I spoke with Casting Crowns guitarist and singer Juan DeVevo about why the group decided to play an acoustic tour. He said they wanted to perform their hit songs, but with more emphasis on the words and less on the music. He said playing acoustic style in smaller places lets the members talk about the songs and why they were written.

What is the best part about an acoustic tour? His answer: the chairs. "We can sit down," he says with a laugh.

We leave you now with the acoustic version of the song you heard earlier -- "Praise You in This Storm" from Casting Crowns' "The Acoustic Sessions: Volume One."

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