After two years of coronavirus uncertainty and challenges, the Missouri National Archery in Schools Program state archery tournament returned to Branson March 17-19, and family names returned to the podium awards.
In 2020, the state redesigned the event as a virtual competition held in each participating school, but as lock-downs and online learning closed school buildings, the state tournament was canceled. Last year it came back, but the number of participating archers declined.
The off years did allow the program to expand into new schools and develop more shooters. Participation spiked by nearly 40 percent this year, with more than 4,300 archers from 218 schools taking aim at bull’s-eye and 3-D targets. In 2021 those numbers were 3,000 and 178.
George Guffey Elementary School in the Fox C-6 District reclaimed its spot as the top elementary school in the state, adding to its previous 11 titles in a row. This year, Guffey’s score of 3,099 bested second place by 66 points, and topped the third-place score of 3,026 posted by Lonedell Elementary of the Fox district.
Hillsboro Junior High finished first in the middle school division with a score of 3,371 in the bullseye competition. The top possible score is 3,600, with a school’s top 12 shooters all posting perfect 300 scores. Hillsboro also took the No. 1 spot in the 3-D competition with a score of 1,695 out of a possible 1,800.
Hillsboro High School also knows the path to the podium and found perches there this year with a third-place finish in the bull’s-eye tournament, on a score of 3,414, and a first-place finish in the 3-D event with a score of 1,724.
Archers who place in the top 10 for their division, and the top-ranked schools, are eligible to compete in the National NASP tournament May 11-13 in Louisville, Ky.
Jefferson County’s top shooters for 2022 include Blake Moore and Peyton Willeford from Hillsboro High, with respective bull’s-eye scores of 295 and 293, good for second and fifth place out of 690 archers in the male high school division. Willeford also earned fourth place in the 3-D competition, shooting 292. Scott Hartenberger of Hillsboro was third in the 3-D with a 293.
Trenton Weber and Cole Wynn from Hillsboro Junior High tied for third place in the middle school division, each with a 287. In the 3-D portion, Wynn bested his score and improved his position to second place with a 288. His classmate, Tyler Schnable, finished fourth in the 3-D shoot with a 283.
Hillsboro Junior High female archer Natalie Jaeschke finished third in the 3-D competition, shooting at 282. Adalynn Painter fired 281 to come in fifth.
Devin Nanney of Guffey Elementary was the only county shooter in the top five for his grade level group. He took fourth with a 270.
“We’re thrilled with the turnout for the tournament, especially after having to cancel the competition in the past,” said Rob Garver, coordinator with the state Department of Conservation. “This archery program has grown in recent years. We’ve had numerous new schools enroll in MoNASP, and we’re happy to see the program expanding and so many students enjoying the sport and excelling at it. ”
Fourteen Jefferson County schools sent 267 archers to the state tournament. The other local schools firing away in Branson were Fox, Jefferson, Seckman and Windsor high schools; and also from Fox C-6, Antonia, Ridgewood and Seckman middle schools and Meramec Heights and Simpson elementary schools.
NASP is coordinated in the state through the conservation department, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. More than 250,000 Missouri students from 800 schools participate in the program, which promotes education, self-esteem and physical fitness for students in grades 4-12. Statistics show archery programs improve school attendance, increase self-esteem and physical fitness and help students relate to subject matter.
John Winkelman is Marketing Director for Liguori Publications near Barnhart, Mo., and Associate Editor for Outdoor Guide Magazine. If you have story ideas to share for the Leader outdoor news page, e-mail email@example.com, and you can find more outdoor news and updates at johnjwink.com.