Local school archery programs have only run a few years, but Rim Country students have already reached national acclaim.
“All the Rim Country schools have ... had a number of archers qualify for the national tournaments,” said coach Joe Klein.
He and Rich Wilson coach the Payson Unified School District teams.
Last year, 10 students went to the national tournament, and this year looks to send more.
The local archers use the National Archery in the Schools Program. NASP is the largest organization of its kind. Started in 2002 in 22 Kentucky schools. NASP has since gone international in nine Canadian provinces and 11 other countries worldwide.
The organization touts archery as a sport anyone at any age and ability can enjoy.
“NASP is an activity that doesn’t discriminate based on popularity, athletic skill, gender, size or academic ability,” writes the organization on its website.
The NASP program starts in fourth grade and goes all the way through high school. The organization has tailored its program to fit into any physical education program. It then trains teachers each summer on how to teach archery.
The results in Rim Country have thrilled Klein, both as a coach and parent.
His daughter, in middle school, has each reached national championships.
Rim Country archery students compete in several competitions around the state, then qualify for the national tournaments.
“Competitions consist of state qualifiers and fun shoots and are held all over Arizona,” said Klein.
NASP held the most recent competition Jan. 24 and 25 at the Ben Avery Shooting Range. They will hold other competitions in Mayer, Kingman, Tucson, Wickenburg and Winslow.
“The first tournament took place in early September and the state competition will take place on Feb. 28 and 29,” said Klein.
Archers compete both in bull’s-eye target and 3-D (animal) targets.
Rim Country archers have three divisions between the PUSD, Pine-Strawberry and Payson Christian School students; fifth grade elementary, all middle school (6-8), and all high school (9-12).
So far, the archers have done well.
“All three teams did great against a lot of other teams from all over the Valley and the state,” said Klein.
He loves to tout the kids.
“We all celebrate each other when the Rim Country wins,” he said.
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