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AGFC archery program bends new direction


PANGBURN — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Archery in the Schools Program will launch arrows in a new direction April 5-6 when Pangburn High School hosts the agency’s first state-level 3D tournament compatible with the National Archery in the Schools Program.
Nearly 360 archers, representing 28 schools from fourth grade through 12th grade, will compete in the new 3D format, shooting at targets resembling deer and other game species instead of the bull’s-eye targets common with field archery.
“Instead of shooting six rounds (called ends) at a single round target, the archers will shoot at six different animal-shaped targets,” Aimee Swaim, AGFC Archery in the Schools Program coordinator, said. “If they hit the main body of the target, it’s 7 points, then there are scoring rings inside of the animal’s vital area where a hunter would want to hit in the field with a 10 being an excellent shot on the animal in the real world. Any arrow that misses the target or hits an extremity is counted as a zero.”
It didn’t take much convincing with current AIS teams to join in the new opportunity. Swaim said that by simply contacting the teams that qualified for the National Archery in the Schools Championship during the AGFC’s state championship, she was able to fill 358 slots of the proposed 360-person roster.
“Our archers are really excited about the new discipline,” Swaim said. “Many have gone to the national tournament but only were able to shoot in the bull’s-eye competition. Now that we have a state-sanctioned 3D tournament as a qualifier, they’ll be able to participate in this form of archery at nationals, too.”
Pangburn High School’s archery coach, David McKee, was responsible for a lot of the heavy lifting in getting the 3D shoot organized.

“They came to me earlier this year with the desire to host the tournament,” Swaim said. “Their archers wanted some more variety in their program and they wanted that opportunity to compete in multiple events at nationals. We worked through the logistics and they’ve really put together a good program. We’ll have two courses set up in Pangburn High School Gymnasium, and we’ll be running 15 flights of archers from 4 p.m. on April 5 all the way through 5 p.m. on April 6.”
Jose Jimenez, chief of the AGFC’s Recreational Shooting Division, said he’s just as excited as the archers about the competition.
“One of the things I’ve been asked already is how our shooting programs can evolve to recruit new hunters,” Jimenez said. “We have 13,000 archers shooting bull’s-eye in our regular format, but we need to do something that continues their journey as a hunter and conservationist. Shooting the 3D targets helps make that connection to game animals and archery.”
Swaim agrees.
“Plus, it’s just plain fun for the archers to draw back on something other than a paper bull’s-eye all the time,” Swaim said. “Keeping students’ attentions is super important in keeping them engaged in the outdoors.”
Visit www.agfc.com/AIS for more information on the AGFC’s Archery in the Schools Program.