New Prague archery program continues to grow

Five years ago 40 students formed the first New Prague Archery Club.

Today the Club has grown to more than 160 members in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). Of the 160 archers this year, 55 are in high school, 32 in middle school, and 73 in the elementary and youth division.

Interest in the program has been motivated by middle school’s second and 31st place finishes respectively in the state and national championships, while the high school team has placed fifth and 55th respectively. Mainstream archers in the Olympics and movies such as The Hunger Games also has had a lot to do with new popularity in the sport.

The NASP program began in Kentucky in 2002 and since has caught fire across the nation. In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources and several associations have stepped up to help schools afford and administer the program at their locations. By 2011-12, more than 382 Minnesota schools have offered the program. In 2012, more than 1,000 Minnesota Archers participated at the State Championships in Champlin Park. More than 8,000 nationwide archers participated at the National Championships in Lexington, KY. Guinness World Book verified this as the record largest archery tournament in the world.

New Prague archers recently travelled one-and-ahalf hours north to Chisago Lakes, where New Prague fared very well. Many of the kids shot personal bests at this tournament just missing the top five spots. Logan Geer shot a 296 (perfect is a 300), earning first overall boy and first in the middle school boys division. Erin Wadekamper shot a 286, earning top overall girl and first in the high school girls division. Other top shooters include: Dylan Chlan - third in HS boys, Callie Schroeder - fourth MS girls, Hanna Mooney - first Elementary girls, Elizabeth Malz - fifth Elementary girls, Ryan Geer - first Elementary boys, Joey Hunt - fourth Elementary boys, Breanna Franek - first Youth girls, Britlynn Franek - second Youth girls, Maggie Schulte - third Youth girls, Cory Schroeder - first Youth boys, Brandon Love - second Youth boys and Hunter Brekke - third Youth boys.

On Saturday, Jan. 26, the New Prague Archery Club will host its own home tournament at New Prague High School. The expectations are that about 500 archers from the region will be here to compete. The tournament will be from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with award ceremonies to follow. The public is welcome to attend the tournament and enjoy “Dad’s all you can eat Belgian Waffles,” which will be served from 8 a.m. to noon. Tickets can be purchased at the door for the breakfast.