The National Archery in the Schools national tournament began Thursday at the Kentucky Exposition Center, but the lion’s share of the action will be Friday and Saturday.
“This will be our largest (tournament),” said Roy Grimes, National Archery in the Schools Program CEO and president.
Last year’s national tournament attracted 7,804 archers, which Grimes said was certified by Guinness World Records as the largest archery tournament in the world.
“We’ll break our own record this year,” he said.
The program had meager Kentucky beginnings but rapidly grew.
“Our first tournament was in July 2002 at the Mercer County (Ky.) Sportsmen’s Club,” recalled Grimes, who was then employed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “We had 40 kids from 21 schools.”
It has since expanded to 47 states and attracts more than 2 million students annually. Several countries, from Canada to South Africa, also employ the program. The archery in the schools is incorporated into the physical education curriculum at participating schools.
“We’ve never had a year where participation declined,” said Grimes. “Teachers use it to engage students in their studies. It’s popular because it works for schools. And kids love it.”
The program is structured with three divisions that include grades 4-12. Boys and girls participate. Coed teams are required. Grimes said 41 percent of the participants are girls.
Elementary divisions include fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students. The middle division is for seventh- and eighth-graders. High school includes grades 9-12.
Team and individual boy and girl shooters in each division will be recognized Saturday evening. Following the team and individual competition, the top four boy and girl finishers will meet in a shoot-off for $50,000 in scholarship money.
The NASP national tournament is open to the public. Admission is $5. Parking at the expo center is $8.
Grimes said last year’s nationals attracted more than 30,000 spectators. He expects more this year following increased student participation.
Today’s action begins at 8 a.m. with the final flight scheduled to shoot at 8:15 p.m. Saturday’s action will also begin at 8 a.m. The final flight is scheduled for 4 p.m., followed by the scholarship shoot-off and awards presentation.
For more information go to www.nasparchery.com.
The National Archery in the Schools world tournament will be in St. Louis on June 28-30.