At this time last year, very few Missourians knew what NASP stood for. Fewer still knew the state’s first National Archery in the Schools Program tournament was coming up. However, recent developments are strong evidence of Missouri NASP’s burgeoning popularity.
The national program got its start in Kentucky in 2002 and quickly spread to dozens of other states, not to mention countries as far-flung as Australia and South Africa. Missouri climbed aboard the NASP juggernaut in 2007. In less than two years thousands of Show-Me State youngsters were enjoying the physical, emotional and academic benefits of an activity that builds confidence and concentration, not to mention the drive to excel in every way.
Last March, 274 youngsters from 17 schools gathered at Linn Technical College for the first MoNASP State Tournament. When they meet again Feb. 13, their numbers are expected to exceed 500. Many will have experience under their belts, thanks to a growing network of local and regional competitions. Those who place highest in the state tournament will go on to represent Missouri at the national tournament May 7 and 8 in Louisville, Ky.
You can’t fully appreciate this program’s importance until you have watched a frail, bespectacled youngster stand confidently beside kids twice his size, slapping arrow after arrow into the center of a bull’s-eye. This is a sport where you can excel regardless of size or shape. Nerds have the same chance as cool kids at success. Everyone uses the same bows and arrows, so success is based strictly on individual effort. No one has an advantage because of financial means.
Intrigued? Come to Linn Tech Feb. 13 and see what its’ all about. The competition begins around 10 a.m. and continues all day. Or visit http://mdc.mo.gov/teacher/masp/ and find out how easy it is to start an archery program in your school with help from the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation.