The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) was started 15 years ago in our neighboring state of Kentucky and has caught on like wildfire. It has spread all across the country and even to several countries around the world.
When many people think of archery they immediately think of hunting applications. Granted that may very well have been part of the reasoning behind the formation of the program but certainly wasn’t the main focus of the effort.
Archery is a lifelong sport that can be enjoyed by everyone from the very young to those of us who are still young at heart. It also levels the playing field for those who aren’t as athletic as others and who have no aspirations of playing in the NBA or NFL.
It also allows those who are even physically challenged a chance to participate in a team sport and be competitive with all of their other school mates. The NASP program truly is a one size fits all arena.
This year will mark the 11th year for the WVDNR Archery in the Schools State Tournament. Each spring the best of the best are invited to show their skill at the annual gathering in Charleston. This year’s State Tournament will be held on March 26 at the Charleston Civic Center.
Over 1100 students entered their scores in and on-line tournament to determine who would get to go to States. The top 6 scoring teams in each age division get to compete along with the top 15 scoring male and female individuals from each age division.
Archery in the Schools is currently being taught in over 300 schools statewide and only around 500 students will get the opportunity to compete at the Charleston Tournament. The list of this year’s attendees brings together schools from all over the state and will show off some impressive archery skills.
I am proud to announce that there are several archers from right here in our area that will be making the trip to Charleston next weekend. If you want to see some exceptional archery, stop by the Charleston Civic Center next Saturday to cheer on our local students competing to bring home a state title.
Chase Herndon, representing Beth Haven Christian School, will be tough to beat in the Middle School Male Division. Ambassador Christian Academy, from Mingo County, will be sending Kelsey Stogsdill, Grayson Crigger, Jaron Brown and Kavon Treleven to represent their archery program. The Chapmanville Archery Team will be well represented by Lydia Ratz, Jacob Blair and Jacob Manns at this year’s event. Tug Valley High School will be sending Brodie Thompson to round out the local contingent of archers ready to show off their shooting skills.
These archers and all of the teams and individuals who put forth the time and effort to just have the opportunity to qualify for the State tournament should be commended. Their sport may not get the coverage that football, basketball or even baseball does, but it is just as important to each of these athletes.
To say that these kids get into the archery in the schools program because they wanted to bowhunt might be true for some, but others just want the opportunity to compete and be a part of something different. There have been several that got hooked on bowhunting because they got hooked on archery through the NASP program first.
Either way, when you put a bow in the hand of a student and watch them learn to shoot and become proficient with it, it is hard to deny the smile and the sense of accomplishment they have. Regardless of whether they just sent an arrow through the buck of a lifetime, or they just shot the best round of their life at a tournament or even in the backyard.
Best of all it doesn’t matter if they are 8 years old, or 80 years young, they can still enjoy the “twang” of the bow string and the “thwack” as the arrow hits its mark!
— Roger Wolfe is an Outdoor Columnist for Civitas Media, He can be reached at [email protected]