Preliminary estimates indicate the 2014 National Archery in the Schools (NASP) National Tournament held at the Kentucky exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. May 8-10 obliterated the previously held attendance record by more than 1,000 participants.
According to NASP President Roy Grimes, more than 10,500 student archers from 39 states preregistered for the 11th annual event, surpassing the record set in 2013, when 9,426 youngsters representing 600 schools participated, reflecting an attendance increase of 10.25 percent. A year earlier, the 2013 attendance was more than a 17 percent increase from 2012. For three years running, the event has been certified by Guinness® World Records as the largest archery tournament in the world.
Launched in 2002 as a combined project of the Kentucky Departments of Fish & Wildlife Resources and Department of Education, NASP has spread to 47 states and 14 countries. Today, more than 2 million students participate annually. The first National Tournament was held in 2004.
In standard NASP competition, archers ranging from grades 4 through 12 shoot 5 practice arrows and 3 ends of 5 scoring arrows from 10 and 15 meters, for a total of 40 (10 practice and 30 in competition) arrows launched per archer. (For those doing the math, based on an estimate of 10,500 archers, that works out to 432,000 arrows shot in just more than two days!) Flights began at 4:45 p.m. Thursday, and took place throughout Friday and Saturday in a highly regimented fashion, in order to efficiently move more than 10,000 shooters through the 1,350-foot shooting line within a 24-hour window.
The tiebreaker, scholarship shoot-off, and the awards ceremony began at 5:00 p.m. Saturday and lasted into the evening.
This year a record $77,000 in scholarships was awarded to five girls and five boys. The scholarship sponsors included Mathews Inc. and Gordon Composites at $20,000 each, Plano and Morrell Targets with $10,000 each, Field Logic and Saunder’s Archery at $5,000 each, BCY Bowstrings and New Archery Products with $2,500 each, and NEET Archery Products and United Bowhunters of Kentucky each donated $1,000.
For the first time this year, the NASP National Tournament included an additional venue for competitors, with the first NASP/International Bowhunter Organization (IBO) 3D Challenge event, in which participants shot arrows at realistic foam animal targets using the same equipment and shooting distances. More than 2,500 students preregistered for the inaugural NASP/IBO Challenge.
As with any event of this size and scope, there were a number of travel-related incidents that prevented some of the student archers from participating. Flight cancellations due to bad weather in Dallas kept two members of the New Mexico state champion team from Aztec Schools from arriving in Louisville. And the team from Flower Mound School in Lawton, Okla., narrowly dodged a tragedy
when the charter bus they were traveling in was engulfed in flames on the turnpike outside Tulsa early Thursday morning. The 34 students, parents and coaches aboard the bus were safely evacuated, but all their archery gear and personal belongings were destroyed.
Next up for NASP is its World Tournament at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., July 11 – 13. Joining the top U.S. youth archers will be their NASP® peers from Canada, Africa, and the United Kingdom. Immediately following the World Tournament will be the 2014 NASP® All-Nation All-Star Championship, also at the Madison venue, July 14- 16.
– J.R. Absher, The Archery Wire