When the 2014 National Archery in the Schools National Tournament came to an end, 10,443 student archers who competed in the 3-day tournament set a new Guinness World Record for the largest archery tournament.
As expected, the event broke its own record of 9,426 archery participants established in 2013.
The 4th through12th graders competing represented 665 schools in 39 states. One parent from the Pocahontas archery team in Pocahontas County, W.V., said, "You have more archers in this one competition than live in our entire county!"
The event is held annually at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. Plans are already underway to accommodate up to the 12,000 student archers expected to compete during the 2015 NASP® Nationals in May at the same Louisville location.
To compete in the national tournament, young archers had to first make their school’s archery team and then advance through regional and state tournaments to attend the 2014 Nationals in Louisville.
“My fifth grade son came from Hankinson, N.D., for the second year. He shot his personal best score on Saturday and was so excited. This is such a great program,” Valerie Sanders said.
Because NASP® requires every team to contain at least four students of both genders 45 percent of the contestants were female. The most represented grade levels at the tournament were 5th and 8th grade at 16 percent each. Kentucky sent the most archers with 2,786 shooters. Indiana was second with 970 archers, and Ohio was third with 872 students. Traveling the farthest were 32 archers from Alaska.
Also attending the NASP® Nationals for the first time was Robert Geronimo from New Mexico’s Mescalero Apache Reservation School. Robert, a high school senior, is the great, great grandson of the famous Native American Chief Geronimo.
New at this year’s NASP® Nationals was the launch of the NASP® IBO 3D Challenge.
The Challenge involved simulated (foam) big game animals provided by Rinehart Targets.
A total of 2,004 contestants also participated in the 3D competition, an event partnership of the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) and NASP®. It provides a next step for the 61 percent of the youth archers who report they want to shoot 3D, and the 56 percent who want to learn more about bowhunting.
Archers use the same equipment, at the same but unmarked distances, and follow identical safety protocols they learned in NASP® classes at school.
It took nearly 160 volunteers to conduct the record-sized tournament.
The world’s largest archery tournament also requires the biggest archery ranges, supplies, awards and souvenirs. Sponsors were Mathews Archery, Mission Archery, Morrell Targets, Gordon Composites, Easton Foundations, Easton Technical Products, NWTF, RMEF, Academy Sports + Outdoors, FieldLogic, Rinehart Targets, EA Promotions, ATA, KY Army National Guard, Lancaster Archery, BCY, SCI, and Plano.
The National Archery in the Schools Program began when educators began looking for ways to improve student motivation, attention, behavior, attendance and focus.
Wildlife Conservation agencies were also concerned too many young people are forgoing learning outdoor skills that will inspire them to spend more time with wild things in wild places. Natural resource professionals are convinced learning target shooting skills will result in character and self-reliance development that will serve the future of wildlife conservation well.
NASP© was co-created by the Kentucky Departments of Fish & Wildlife Resources and Department of Education and Mathews Archery in the late summer and fall of 2001. The program was launched in 21 Kentucky middle schools on March 3, 2002.
Originally called the Kentucky Archery in the Schools Program, the effort's goal was to enroll 120 schools and teach target archery skills to 24,000 students each year. Kentucky gave itself three years to achieve this goal.
Within the program's first year the 120-school goal was achieved and because of neighbor-state interest, National replaced Kentucky in the program's name. NASP© also expanded its participation standards to include students in 4th-12th grade. Shortly afterwards NASP© was granted 501 c(3) non-profit educational foundation status. NASP© is overseen by an all-volunteer board of directors. Every state, province and country enrolled in NASP© has a Coordinator in charge of leading the program in their jurisdiction.
--From the National Archery in the Schools program. NASP®, the NASP® logo and all other NASP® marks contained are trademarks of NASP® Intellectual Property and/or NASP® affiliated companies. Online: http://naspschools.org/