The state's best young archers are taking aim at the Minnesota National Archery in the school program state tournament on Friday and Saturday at Champlin Park High School.
About 950 students, from third-graders to high school seniors, will compete. Winning teams and individuals qualify for NASL Nationals taking place May 11-12 in Louisville, Ky.
The event has grown from 56 participants in 2005 to its current record number because of its wide accessibility, said Barry Boevers, tournament coordinator and Champlin Park coach. One archer has cystic fibrosis. Others compete from wheelchairs.
"It's something everyone can do," Boevers said. "There's really no limit to what kids can do. They can compete and in many cases experience success."
St. Croix Preparatory Academy of Stillwater won the high school team title last season, knocking off five-time champion White Bear Lake.
Boevers' Jackson Middle School team has won its division for six consecutive years. Hill City, just south of Grand Rapids, won the elementary school title last year.
The season runs January to March or beyond for those who qualify for nationals.
"The program is in the school curriculum," Boevers said. "The schools who compete have a coach who wants to take it to the next level."
Archers will compete in the Champlin Park fieldhouse. They shoot three flights -- five arrows per flight -- from 10- and 15-meter distances.
The top overall score is 300. Boevers expects to see "some kids in the 295 range."
Admission is $2 for those 12 and older. North Country Bowhunters sponsors the event.
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