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Students take aim at state archery tournament

Posted at 1:59 PM, Mar 20, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-20 15:59:56-04

HELENA — Archers from across Montana traveled to Helena this week for the National Archery in the Schools State Tournament.

In Montana, the National Archery in the Schools program is overseen by Fish, Wildlife and Parks Education Specialist Ryan Schmaltz.

Schmaltz says the program is growing quickly and has expanded from just a few schools to many.

"Last year we had over 10,000 students participate and there is well over 150 schools," says Schmaltz.

The program is available for students in grades 4 through 12. In some schools, the program is educational and part of physical education. However, in others, there is enough interest to form a competitive team.

Rod Benson has been coaching the Hays-Lodgepole team for three years.

He tells MTN that he brought a team to the state championship last year and that there are considerably more competitors in 2024.

"About three times bigger this year. It will probably be bigger next year," says Benson.

The tournament includes both 3D and standard archery targets. Students can compete as individuals or as a team. There are divisions for elementary, middle and high school students.

The top shooters win a bow, a trophy and can qualify for the Archery in the Schools Western National Tournament in April.

Both Benson and Schmaltz say archery can be a great way for someone not drawn to traditional sports to participate in a team activity.

"It's just a fun way to be part of a team and be involved in your school and represent your school," says Benson.

"It's fun to see kids that are not really into organized sports like basketball and football to pick up something that they can do for the rest of their life and really enjoy," adds Schmaltz.

To learn more about the National Archery in the School program and see results from the Montana State Archery Tournament visit: naspschools.org.