LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas National Archery in the Schools Program’s 2017 regional tournaments will be held at a dozen schools throughout the state on Feb. 11. ANASP was established by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 2008 and has grown tremendously in those nine years.

“We have about 550 schools participating in the program throughout the state,” said Curtis Gray, AGFC program coordinator. “That’s about 50 percent of the schools in Arkansas, and we’re always looking to add more.”

The program’s growth spurred the change from one statewide meet a year to regional qualifiers in 2013.

“We just couldn’t handle the volume of students coming to compete in a two-day event any longer,” Gray said. “And the regional tournaments offer a chance for schools to compete a little closer to home before going to the state championship.”

This year, two additional regional tournament locations were added to accommodate continued growth. By the time the last arrow is fired on tournament day, Gray expects to have scores submitted from nearly 6,000 youths.

“The first flights will get started at 8:30 a.m., and we have flights scheduled every hour with dozens of schools in each flight,” Gray said. “We have divisions for elementary, middle school, and high school-aged archers, so it’s going to be a busy day.”

The Region 5 tournament is scheduled for Clarksville High School, 1703 Clark Road in Clarksville.

The top three teams in each division from each regional will be invited to the ANASP state championship, March 3-4, in Hot Springs. An additional 12 teams representing the host schools of the regional tournaments will be given entry into the state championship.

“Each school gets one at-large bid for hosting, and they get to keep all the proceeds from admission and concession stands during the regionals,” Gray said. “The at-large bid usually isn’t an issue, as many of the host schools also end up doing very well in the meet. Home-field advantage is pretty big in this archery format, because all the surroundings are exactly the same as during practice for most host schools.”

Visit http://www.agfc.com/education/Pages/EducationProgramsANASP.aspx#2 for more information about ANASP.