2006 Archery in Schools State Tournament Set

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The second annual Minnesota Archery in the Schools State Tournament will be Saturday, April 1, at the Sauk Rapids-Rice High School in central Minnesota. The competition is open to students in schools that are participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), a project sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

With more than 100 schools enrolled in NASP in the state, Minnesota trails only Kentucky in the size of its school archery program. An estimated 40,000 Minnesota students will participate in physical education based archery through the program in 2006. An additional 10,000 students will utilize the gear at summer camps and after-school programs.

The state tournament is a culminating event for students who participate in archery as an in-school unit. All participants use the same equipment they use in class. The NASP program utilizes the Genesis bow, full-length aluminum arrows and at the 80-centimeter target used in the Olympics. Each participant shoots 15 arrows at 10 meters and 15 arrows at 15 meters. Participants compete both as an individual and as members of a team in the elementary, middle school or high school division. Teams consist of the top 16 shooters, at least five of whom must be of the opposite gender.

Archery is proving popular with teachers and students because everyone can compete fairly, regardless of size, gender or athletic talent. In fact, archery is often most popular with students who lag behind in other athletic activities.

According to the DNR's Ryan Bronson, who supervises the NASP efforts in Minnesota, archery is breaking down a number of barriers.

"Teachers and administrators are seeing the benefits of archery on kids' self-esteem in places as diverse as Minneapolis and Milaca," Bronson said. "And despite popular opinion that the shooting sports are only for males, the high scoring team in the 2005 State Tournament consisted of almost all girls from Grand Rapids."

The state tournament is a cooperative effort among the DNR and several state archery organizations, including the Minnesota State Archery Association, Minnesota Archers Alliance and Minnesota Bowhunters Inc. The National Wild Turkey Federation's Minnesota Chapter is a major sponsor of NASP in the state.

Linda Beck is the tournament chairperson and the lead volunteer instructor for NASP in Minnesota. She sees the state tournament as an opportunity for parents to come and cheer on their children in a sport that they can participate in for the rest of their lives.

"Archery is a sport that whole families can do together," Beck said. "Unlike football or basketball, kids can expect to shoot archery for decades after they graduate."

The archery competition begins at 9:30 a.m. on April 1. It is open to spectators from the public at no charge. Participating schools and archers must preregister with the Tournament Chairperson, Linda Beck, prior to the competition.

For more information about the NASP program, visit www.nasparchery.org or www.dnr.state.mn.us.