OK: Arrows flying in statewide student archery competition

Though Oklahoma’s popular archery hunting seasons for species
like deer, black bear and antelope are done for the 2011-12 season,
some might say the state is still “in the thick of archery season”
– at least if you are involved with the Oklahoma National Archery
in the Schools Program.

The program, operated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation and often referred to as OKNASP, is hosting regional
shoots across Oklahoma throughout February in which 2,500 students
are competing for a spot in the upcoming annual state shoot. Three
regional shoots have already been held in Oklahoma City and Tulsa,
and two more are scheduled before the end of the month – one Feb.
15 at the Stephens County Fair and Expo Center in Duncan, and
another Feb. 29 at the McAlester Expo Center in McAlester.

Those that advance from the regional shoots will be invited to the
State Fair Park in Oklahoma City for the state shoot March 28,
where an estimated 1,200 students from across Oklahoma will shoot
for prizes and awards.

Over 310 schools across Oklahoma participate in the program
(OKNASP), which features in-class curriculum and a season of
practice and competition in their respective schools.

“Coaches have told me time and again that this program has helped
every child see success,” said Justin Marschall, OKNASP coordinator
for the Wildlife Department. “From the typical athletic student to
the child that does not usually excel in most other sports, archery
is allowing all students to compete on a level playing
field.”

Marschall said the regional shoots currently underway speak to the
growth of the OKNASP program during its eight years of
existence.

“This is the second year that we’ve held regional qualifiers across
the state, and we’re seeing about a 25 percent increase in growth
from last year’s regionals,” Marschall said. “Holding regional
shoots helps make the number of shooters at the state shoot more
manageable, but another upside is that they provide another fun and
challenging opportunity for the students to shoot competitively
against other schools.”

OKNASP partners state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation’s
archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The
Archery in the Schools curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders
and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental
concentration and self-improvement.

Students in 4th-12th grade who are currently participating in
OKNASP at their schools also are eligible to participate in an
essay contest coordinated by the Wildlife Department in conjunction
with the 75th anniversary of the Wildlife and Sport Fish
Restoration Program. Five winners will be selected, and they will
receive a free Oklahoma lifetime combination hunting and fishing
license courtesy of Oklahoma Archery, to be presented at this
year’s state shoot. Log on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/education/oais.htm for full
details.

The OKNASP program can be followed on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/OKNASP and additional information about the
program and the Wildlife Department is available at
wildlifedepartment.com.

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