Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program
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.
Michael Bergin or Micah Holmes (405) 521-3856