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HAYS — The third annual Kansas State Archery In the Schools (AIS) Championship meet was held at Fort Hays State University on March 31, and participation revealed that the program is growing dramatically in popularity. Seven participating school districts (Anthony-Chaparral, Clearwater, Healy, Jackson Heights, Neodesha, Otis-Bison, and Stockton), plus the Chanute Christian Academy, entered 266 youngsters, including 60 high school, 114 middle school, and 92 elementary school students. This compares to 246 participants in the second annual event last year.
The focus of the AIS program is to provide international-style target archery training in grades 4-12 physical education classes. The Kansas Archery in the Schools Program operates under the umbrella of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP).
Started in Kentucky 13 years ago, Archery In the Schools came to Kansas in 2006. Gary Keehn, of Soldier, serves as coordinator of the state program. Keehn helps organize events, recruit instructors, set up ranges, and conduct certification workshops for instructors, many of whom are physical education teachers in elementary and secondary Kansas schools. Instructors are trained primarily through summer workshops.
Working under Mike Rader, KDWPT wildlife education coordinator, Keehn helps schools and other organizations start programs and obtain equipment. With support from the archery industry, a $5,000 program equipment kit can be purchased by schools for about $3,000. Any teacher who completes a training session receives assistance towards the purchase of a kit from KDWPT. Schools that host a basic instructor training workshop receive additional assistance. The Kansas program currently has about 200 schools involved.
Fort Hays State was the first university to establish a program, under the direction of Dr. Joyce Ellis, assistant professor in the school's Department of Health and Human Performance. For the third year in a row, Ellis has also been the driving force behind the state championship meet.
Because archery is not sanctioned by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, some schools restrict money used to establish programs or pay travel expenses for competitions. Schools with the program hold fund raisers with the help of supporters, students, local businesses, and community volunteers. Partial funding for equipment comes from KDWPT and NASP. And this year, support came from Genesis Bows and Morrell Targets.
Using stock, unmodified Genesis bows (their own or ones provided by the tournament), students shot one practice round of five arrows and three scoring rounds of five arrows each from both 10 meters and 15 meters — a total of 30 scoring shots. Scoring rings on the target provided points from 10 to zero. Team scores were the total of the team's highest 12 individual scores, with at least five archers of each gender per team.
Each participant received a medal. The overall highest male and female scorers each received a new Genesis bow donated by NASP. Plaques donated by KDWPT were awarded to the top three teams in each division and the top three individual shooters. The top two teams and the top three individuals in each division are eligible to participate in the 2012 NASP National Championships in Kentucky the second weekend of May.
The top scoring individual participants included the following, each receiving a Genesis bow:
- Top Male Overall — Brandon Williams, 9th-grader from Clearwater Middle School Blue; and
- Top Female Overall — Micaela Keehn — 11th-grader from Jackson Heights High School.
- First Place — Brandon Williams, 9th grade, Clearwater High School;
- Second Place — Jordan Serpan, 9th grade, Clearwater High School; and
- Third Place — Micaela Keehn, 11th grade, Jackson Heights.
- First Place — Alexandrea Lear, 8th grade, Anthony Middle School;
- Second Place — Bradley Lightfoot, 7th grade, Otis-Bison Intermediate School; and
- Third Place — Darion Luckner, 7th grade, Clearwater Middle School White Team.
- First Place — Grant Ricky, 4th-grader, Clearwater Elementary Team Blue;
- Second Place — Michael Rowland, 6th-grader, Clearwater Elementary Team Blue; and
- Third Place — Kate Lears, 6th-grader, Jackson Heights Elementary School
- First Place —Clearwater High School;
- Second Place — Jackson Heights High School; and
- Third Place — Otis-Bison High School.
- First Place — Clearwater Middle School Team Blue;
- Second Place — Anthony Middle School; and
- Third Place — Clearwater Middle School Team White.
- First Place — Clearwater Elementary School Team Blue;
- Second Place — Anthony Elementary School; and
- Third Place — Clearwater Elementary School Team White.