HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Some of the best young archers in West Virginia will travel to Huntington this weekend. They’ll participate in the annual Archery in Schools State Tournament event. The tournament, for the first time ever, will be staged in the Chris Cline Athletic Complex at Marshall University.

“Last year the Elkview Middle School team held a tournament there and again this year,” said Kayla Donathan, coordinator of Archery in the Schools for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “I reached out to their head coach and asked the pros and cons. Based on that we were very excited to move our state tournament there.”

The larger venue will enable at least 75 more students to qualify for the event than in previous years. According to Donathan one more school in each of the shooting divisions has been added because of the extra space.

“Right now we have space for 600 kids,” she said. “We actually have 570 registered from 64 different schools.”

Schools can send an entire team to the tournament or individuals can qualify. Teams can range from 12 to 24 individuals. Boys

The Cline Athletic Complex offers space for 600 archers

and girls compete together. The top 7 teams from the three divisions which include elementary school, middle school, and high school qualify to shoot. Also the tournament takes the top 15 males and top 15 females who are not on one of the qualifying teams. Those 30 will shoot as individual competitors.

The qualifications are based on scores of qualifying events. The Archery in the Schools program is taught as part of each participating school’s curriculum and some have also added it as an after school, extra-curricular activity. The West Virginia SSAC has explored the idea and may soon be involved as well.

Top teams and individuals shooters qualify to move on to the National Archery in Schools competition in Louisville, Kentucky later this year.

While the program is aimed at getting students interested in archery and archery pursuits like bowhunting or 3-D Target Shooting, there are more lessons the program has taught which were not anticipated.

“It gives these kids an opportunity to work on things like team work and sportsmanship,” Donathan explained. “We’ve seen where kids who are struggling with things like academics or social acceptance, this program has really allowed them to blossom as a teammate.”

The first flights start at 9 a.m. Saturday and shooting should wrap up by 3 p.m. The awards ceremony will follow.