Feb. 28, 2018
Jim Harris Managing Editor Arkansas Wildlife Magazine
HOT SPRINGS – More than 1,800 archers are scheduled to compete over two days at the 10th Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program State Championships, set for Friday and Saturday at Bank of the Ozarks Arena.
“We had 720 kids total first year,” said Curtis Gray, who has coordinated ANASP for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission over the past decade. “Now we are where we’ve got 5,000 competitors going through trying to get one of these 1,800 final spots. And every year it seems to get bigger.”
The top three teams in each division from each of 12 regionals were invited to the ANASP State Championships. In addition, the 12 host teams at the regional tournaments held last month were given automatic entry into this weekend. In all, 112 teams will be competing over the two days. Also, several male and female individuals whose teams didn’t qualify still scored high enough to qualify for the championships.
Elementary (starting with fourth-graders) and middle school divisions will take the floor Friday beginning with 8 a.m. registration. Archers will be divided into flights, and competition starts at 9 a.m., lasting until 4 p.m. Award presentations are at 4:30 p.m.
Senior high competitors will begin registering at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, with flights starting at 9:30 a.m. and running through 1:30 p.m. The Saturday awards ceremony is expected to start at 2 p.m.
Last year’s team winners were Hill Farm in the elementary division and Greene County Tech among the middle schools, while Valley View won the senior high division, edging out runner-up Batesville High and third-place Greene County Tech. Those three senior teams figure to be in the mix again Saturday, based on regional results, but it’s Alpena High that comes in off the highest regional score recorded: 3,363 points. Bergman, the Region 2 runner-up to Alpena, will likely be among the contenders, too, along with such programs as Glen Rose, Cabot, Bryant, Pottsville and the Rattler Senior High team (Murfreesboro).
Spectator admission is free – Gray said based on last year he expects 8,000 to 10,000 people will attend – but everyone, including the competitors, is encouraged to bring a canned food item or two to donate to Hunters Feeding the Hungry. “Last year we had 3,200 cans of food and we’re shooting for 3,500 this year,” Gray said. A local church donates $100 each day to the team that brings in the most canned items, with the money going to the teams’ archery programs. Meanwhile, everyone gets a ticket per each food item to be entered in regular door prize drawings throughout the weekend.
While competitors wait between rounds, they’ll find such activities as a 3D archery shooting tournament for prizes to the top three finishers. Gray said he typically tries to set up 10 targets for the 3D archery. Also, kids can try Archery Pong, where they attempt to use an arrow to displace a ball floating on a column of air, again with prizes available. And, just for fun, the archers will want to attempt the trap shoot, giving them a chance to hit a moving foam target.
The Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program – part of the National Archery in the Schools Program – is the largest of any state program and teaches archery skills as well as an outdoor hobby that young people may enjoy for the rest of their lives. It has also proven to be a great way to sharpen skills, build self-esteem and create a stronger atmosphere for success in the class room, according to Gray.
ANASP is funded through several sources, including Act 799 of the 2003 Arkansas General Assembly, which sends fine money collected from violators of AGFC regulations to all 75 counties. The money is earmarked for conservation education in schools.