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Student Archers on Target for World Records
AUSTIN, Texas — They came to Louisville, Kentucky with equipment invented in Africa 52,000 years ago. They arrived by auto, bus, and airplane in singles, pairs and excited packs until 4,565 student archers had gathered to obliterate the world record for the largest archery tournament in world history. The 2009 National Archery in the Schools Program championship was about to begin.
Among the participants were 94 Texas students attending the archery nationals for the first time, all of whom had to raise the necessary funds for buses, hotels, meals, and registration. This included teams from Kaufman ISD, Ennis Junior High and High School and St. Mary’s Catholic School in Sherman. Individuals from Stephenville High School, Lamar Middle School in Lewisville and St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Wimberley also participated. Argyle High School registered for the tournament but was not allowed to travel due to H1N1 flu concerns.
Between the 1st whistle to "shoot" May 8 and the last whistle to "go get arrows" May 9, the 4th-through-12th grade archers released 182,600 arrows into 80-centimeter international targets. Laid end to end the arrows would reach from Louisville to just south of Indianapolis, Indiana. Some arrows landed more centered than others, but no doubt each young participant will remember the day they made NASP history.
The in-school target archery program started in 21 Kentucky schools on March 3, 2002. NASP’s aim is to teach target archery skills to students in grades 4-12 as part of the in-school curriculum. The rapidly expanding program is currently presented in more than 5,000 schools in 46 states and five countries by nearly 16,000 teachers. Educators are told archery is ranked safer than every ball sport taught in schools except table tennis.
"We had a great time in Kentucky," said archery coach Nathan Wieck of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Sherman. "The parents this year got really excited and involved and cheered like crazy, so I’m not sure how we missed out on a spirit award? Both teams scored 100 points higher than our state scores, so we are getting there but still have a ways to go."
Likewise, coach Kyle Brietz said the Ennis Junior High and High School teams had a successful trip to Louisville. The junior high team posted a team score of 3023, placing 33rd in a 65-team field. The high school team, comprised mostly of junior high kids "shooting up" scored a respectable 2,799.
"Shooting a 3000 with the NASP distance and scoring format is quite an accomplishment. Our Junior High teams have now done it twice, both at national finals. I think the bar is going to be raised every year as more schools recognize the benefits of having an archery program in their schools, and that starting that program in the early grades, like Kentucky did, is a big advantage."
Every student at the tournament shot 10 practice and 30 scoring shots using identical equipment at the same target from 10 and 15 meters. The highest possible individual score is 300 and the highest possible team score is 3,600.
NASP archery is a co-gender discipline with every team required to contain boys and girls. Thirty-eight percent of the participants at the tournament were female. In fact, Jessica Nystrom from Hartland High School in Hartland, Michigan, tied NASP legend, Graham Cofield’s world record with a score of 298.
NASP is a non-profit foundation able to operate only by support from a variety of generous donors. Many of these donors were present at the nationals including medal-level sponsors; Mathews Archery, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Morrell Targets, The Block, and Rinehart Targets. The National Field Archery Association’s MJ Rogers was again on hand to loan and help set up the NFAA’s huge portable indoor archery range.
A complete list of tournament award winners in every division and a list of scholarship sponsors can be found on the NASP Web site. The 2010 NASP Nationals will be held again at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky on May 7-8. All students who qualified to attend the 2009 nationals are being invited to attend the first annual NASP World Tournament in Orlando, Florida on October 7-1l.
For information about the Texas-National Archery In The Schools program, contact Burnie Kessner with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 862-7341. Or, see the TPWD archery in the schools Web page.
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