A record number of students, many from Southeast Tennessee schools, will be taking part in the Ninth Annual Tennessee National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) State Championships to be held April 1-2 at the Tennessee Miller Coliseum in Murfreesboro.
About 1,800 students from across the state, representing about 80 schools, are expected to compete. Many schools in Hamilton County and surrounding counties will be taking part.
Boyd Buchanan will be sending about two dozen youngsters, 5th thru 12th grade, to the event. They’ll be led by volunteer coach Kevin Lee.
“It would excite me to leave there with medals,” said Lee. “But that’s not my main goal. I don’t want my youngsters to compete against other kids, I want them to compete against themselves. I simply want them to try and continually improve their own scores, and if they do that, the medals will come eventually. But I want them to have fun first, because if it’s not fun, there’s no need in doing it.”
Lee has been leading Boyd Buchanan in the NASP Tournament for four years, but he says this is the first year he will have enough students to field an official middle school team. Rules requires at least 12 students (elementary, middle or high school) to qualify and compete in the Team competition. Other students will only compete as individuals.
Lee said that to date he knows there is at least one certified NASP Instructor in 20 Hamilton County schools. One of two instructors classes he holds annually begins Friday. There are also several School Resource Officers with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Dept. who are certified.
Officer Jimmy Bowers, the School Resource Officer at Hixson High School, has promoted the archery-in-the-schools program in the sheriff’s department.
“I’ve taken the [archery program] on as a mission and really want to see it grow and succeed,” Bowers said. “I really believe in the program because it does a lot of great things for the kids. They learn discipline and a lot of other skills they may not learn in the classroom.”
The local chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation and Safari Club International help support and fund the program, in addition to the funding provided by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
“We’ll take any help we can get,” said Lee. “There is really no limit on where we can go with this.”
The NASP began in Tennessee in 2004. There will be three divisions in the state tournament – elementary, middle school and high school divisions. Awards will be presented to the top teams and individual finishers in each division.
The record field has caused the increase of an additional flight to be added on the first day. Competition will start at 2 p.m. on Wednesday with the first flight and two more flights to follow. On Thursday, there will be six flights with the first flight to begin at 8:30 a.m. and continuing until the final flight starts at 3:30 p.m. The awards ceremony is expected to begin at 5 p.m. The public is welcome and invited to attend. There is no admission charge.
Last year, White County won its first state championship crown in the high school division. Rutherford County’s Whitworth Buchanan Middle School and Christiana Elementary were repeat winners in their respective divisions.
Tennessee began NASP in late 2004 with 12 pilot schools participating in the program. The number of schools has grown to 282 that now participate in the program. NASP is a two-week curriculum taught during school that teaches International Style Target Archery.
Each student will shoot 30 arrows, 15 from 10 meters and 15 from 15 meters with a maximum score of 300. The top team and top 10 individuals in each division automatically receive a bid to compete in the 2015 National NASP Tournament to be held May 7-9 in Louisville, Ky. There will also be at-large bids for those who qualify.
If a school or teacher is interested in starting a NASP program, contact Don Crawford, Assistant Chief of Information and Education at Don.Crawford@tn.gov or (615) 781-6542 or Matt Clarey, Regional Training Coordinator in TWRA Region III at Matt.Clarey@tn.gov or (931) 484-9571.