HOT SPRINGS — Eighty-eight teams of students ranging from fourth-graders through high school seniors have been selected to compete in this year’s Archery in the Schools State Championship March 4-5 at the Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs after last week’s regional competitions, held throughout the state.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Archery in the Schools Program teaches students the sport of field archery using modern compound bows that will fit a wide range of users. Teachers and other school staff learn from the AGFC’s archery instructors how to bring this sport back to their students and offer them an alternative sport that children of nearly any size and ability are able to enjoy.
“We had 3,471 students from elementary, middle and high schools throughout Arkansas compete in regional tournaments last week,” Curtis Gray, who coordinates the program for the AGFC, said. “We conducted the regional tournaments virtually again this year, with schools being allowed to shoot anytime between Feb. 7 and Feb. 11.”
Gray says the total participation has climbed since last year’s regional tournaments, which also had to be held virtually.
“It’s encouraging to see the numbers increase, and that’s solely the work of all of our dedicated teachers out there making it happen,” Gray said. “They’re working with administrators and jumping through whatever hoops they need to so these kids can compete. It’s inspiring to see how much extra effort these men and women are putting in for their students.”
The top two teams from each region in each division receive invitations to the state championship, as well as the 10 teams with the highest scores remaining after those teams are selected.
“Some regions have four or five teams that are all very good, and we want to make sure they are represented in addition to teams from other parts of the state,” Gray said.
Alpena High School scored the highest in the High School Division (3,280 of a possible 3,600 points), but the race was close, with Valley Springs High School and Waldron High School both within three points of their total.
In the Middle School Division, Charleston Middle School walks into the state meet with an impressive 3,215 score, being followed by Bergman School and Washington Middle School rounding out the top three prospects.
The Elementary School Division sees the return of many familiar names, such as Charleston Elementary, Bergman School and Eagle Mountain Magnet School.
“I’m personally really excited to get these kids over to Hot Springs and have a state championship shoot in person again,” Gray said. “These kids have all been through a lot and showed a lot of determination to continue participating in the program and we’re ready to reward them with a great time competing at a big event.”
Visit www.agfc.com/anasp for more information about Archery in the Schools and a complete list of qualifying teams. Team and individual scores are available at https://nasptournaments.org/TournamentExplorer.aspx.