On Saturday, March 25 hundreds of archers converged on the Charleston Civic Center.
These archers have practiced for months and competed in numerous tournaments held all over the state just hoping to qualify for the State Tournament.
The archers are broken out by grade into three separate divisions and each division competes at different times throughout the day. Elementary division (4th & 5th grade) shooters get the tournament started. They are followed by the Middle School division (6th, 7th, & 8th grades) and the High School division (9th through 12th grades) caps off the event in the early afternoon.
Only the top six teams in each division and the top 15 scoring archers, male and female, who aren’t associated with those teams qualify for the tournament. Those additional individual shooters assure that the top archers from around the state get to participate no matter what the size of their program.
This year there were almost 600 shooters participating in the event and they were representing 54 different schools from all over the state. There were participants from the Eastern panhandle all the way to Pocahontas County. Shooters traveled all the way down from Ohio County and some from right here in Logan County. The state was well represented from corner to corner at the event.
Since the inception of the NASP (National Archery in the Schools Program) back in 2004, the program has been well received and has spread like wildfire. In the 12 short years for the State Tournament nearly 8,000 students have represented their school at the annual event.
Even more impressive than the number of students who have shot at the state tournament is the fact that over 125,000 students in the state have gotten the opportunity to shoot a bow and arrow because of the NASP program. Bowhunting is certainly a big deal in the Mountain State, but NASP archery isn’t about bowhunting, it is about teaching proper form and technique for any type of archery.
While several of the students who participate in the NASP program are certainly interested in bowhunting, the vast majority have no interest or desire to ever head to the field with stick and string but are definitely up for the challenge that archery tournaments bring.
This was clearly evident as many of the top spots in this year’s tournament were claimed by archers scoring 280 or more points out of 300. That means out of 30 arrows very few fall short of the 10 ring.
Actually, this year’s top score was an amazing 291/300. While this is an impressive score no matter how you look at it, it isn’t the highest that has been scored in years gone by. There are some truly talented archers at the State NASP tournament each and every year.
This isn’t the end of the road for these top archers. The top 10 shooters in each division at the state tournament are qualified to participate in the National Competition held in Louisville, Ky., in early May. Not only do the individuals get to compete, the top scoring teams are invited as well.
The state is always well represented at the National competition and has even sent several students on to the World Competition to compete against archers from across the globe. The World shoot moves around, and this year is being shot in Orlando, Fla.
Possibly the single most impressive thing about this program is the fact that each and every archer shoots equipment that is nearly identical. The color of the bows themselves may vary, but other than that, they are basically identical.
This is designed to level the playing field and allow everyone to compete equally. The fact that the equipment is the same for everyone makes the competition that much closer and showcases the talents of each archer.
If you ever get the chance to watch these archers in action, I encourage you to pay close attention because these kids can shoot! No sights, no releases, no fancy gadgets attached in every possible position. Just an archer, a bow and a hand full of arrows and some mighty fine shooting.
Congratulations to all those who got the opportunity to shoot in the WV NASP State Tournament and Good Luck to those archers moving on to compete elsewhere! Enjoy the challenge because you earned it!
Roger Wolfe is an Outdoor Columnist for Civitas Media. For questions comments or story suggestions he can be reached at [email protected]