Thousands Make Archery Music in Nashville, Tennessee

By: Brittany Jones

Mary Aldridge and the UK Team
United Kingdom NASP Team with three members of Kentucky’s Western Hills High School. UK Coach and NASP Coordinator is on right end of back row.
National Archery in the Schools Program
National Archery in the Schools Program

Nashville, TN -( Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee was the place to be July 22-25 as the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) conducted its 2015 world tournament.

Nearly 5,000 student archers from all over the world including; USA, Canada, United Kingdom (UK), South Africa, and Namibia were in town. Archers from these countries got to experience first hand what Nashville country was all about with some cowboy boots, barbecue, country music, and most importantly, archery, as they waited their turn to shoot in the highly contested competition.

The archery tournament started on Wednesday evening and continued through Saturday afternoon. In all, 29 flights of nearly 190 archers per flight competed at NASP distances of 10 and 15 meters. The kids in NASP destroyed the NASP world tournament record as 4,871 actually shot in this year’s world – a 99% increase over the 2,907 archers who attended the event in St. Louis in 2013.

Awards were presented for top teams and individuals in each of the Elementary (ES), Middle (MS), and High School (HS) divisions. Before awards could be bestowed, tournament officials had to first break ties among the archers. Ties occur every year, but this year, more than twenty ties occurred, nearly double the norm! Tie breaking is accomplished in front of the crowd assembled for the awards ceremony. Each tied archer shoots five practice arrows from 15 meters and then five scored arrows from the same distance. After ties were settled, these were the NASP world top individuals.

The HS male champion was Shane Karls, representing Hartland, Michigan, with a score of 298 out of 300.

When asked his feelings regarding his big win, Shane had this to say, “I am so happy that all of my practice paid off and that my family came to watch. Coming in first was not on my mind. I knew I had the ability, but I realize there are so many others that do as well.”

Coach Jellison also weighed in on Shane’s win, “Shane was a student of mine back in seventh grade. He and I share a passion for hunting and shooting bows. It’s rewarding to see such a quiet, kind, multisport athlete and hard working archer reach this level.”

Archers shooting NASP/IBO 3D Challenge.
Archers shooting NASP/IBO 3D Challenge.

The runner up, with a score of 297, went to David Machart from Iowa’s Anamosa HS. Mary Aldridge of Western Hills and Marissa Phillips of Paul Lawrence Dunbar HS, both in Kentucky, were tied after the main event with 295’s. Mary won the tiebreaker in front of 1,500 “friends and family” at the awards ceremony.

Aldridge had some appreciative comments on her win, “Winning world, this year, was something I never expected as my practice time had been limited leading up to the tournament due to several weeks of preparation and attendance at the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. Going into the tournament, I had made up my mind to focus on technique and not on results. This has made the surprise of this win even more thrilling and rewarding than I could have ever imagined. Thank you NASP.”

Robert Aldridge, Mary’s father and coach, witnessed his daughter winning first place and had this to say, “NASP Archery has provided numerous opportunities for growth and life experiences for our local archers. One of the most memorable world tournament moments for me as a coach was capturing a photo of the world champion and her sisters enjoying a special moment with the coach and archers of the UK archery team. No other activity, I know of, provides our local students those kinds of life experiences. So proud of Mary’s determination, her efforts and now the memories she will have for a lifetime. Thanks for another great year of NASP!”

Winning the MS division was Mitchell Ritter of Ringling Public Schools, in Oklahoma, who shot a 297. Runner-up, Henry Thompson from Anderson County Middle School, Kentucky, shot a 294. In the female MS category, Lakyn Wilson of the Southwestern Jefferson County Schools, in Indiana, recorded a 293, to win first place. Runner-up accolades went to Heidi Jo Mcgrady of Logan Hocking Middle School in Ohio with a 291.

Archers waiting for the one whistle signal to "shoot."
Archers waiting for the one whistle signal to “shoot.”

Ryan Hinds of Kentucky’s Shopville Elementary, dominated the ES division male category with an amazing score of 293. The runner up was awarded to Lane Mollenhauer of Central City Community Schools in Iowa, who shot a 292. In the ES female category, first place was earned by Emma Bunch, of Benton Elementary, in Louisiana with a 292. Runner up, Shyanne Iles of Piner Elementary, in Kentucky, shot a 285.

As most NASP-aware people know, NASP places much focus on entire teams. A NASP team is comprised of 12-24 archers containing both genders on every team. The top 12 scores for the team, including at least four of both genders, are summed and ranked. A perfect team score would be 3,600 points.Michigan’s Hartland High School won top HS team honors with a score of 3,447. Louisiana’s Benton middle and elementary schools won their respected divisions with 3,367 and 3,290 points.

Beginning last year, NASP and the International Bowhunting Organization (IBO) also conducted a “NASP/IBO 3D Challenge” where simulated (foam) turkey, coyote, bear, antelope, deer and mountain sheep are the targets. The kids love this break from shooting bulls-eyes. At this world tournament 1,139 students participated in the 3D challenge. The top HS male shooter, Gerdus Visser, from Labori HS Paarl of Western Cape, South Africa, shot a score of 294.

Lucky Johnson from South Africa at full draw.
Lucky Johnson from South Africa at full draw.

Runner up status went to Isaiah Mullins of Lincoln County High School in Kentucky also with a 294. Gerdus’s score included 25 bulls-eyes while Isaiah shot 24 bulls-eyes; this difference in bulls-eyes, a.ka. 10’s, separated first and second place. Young Gerdus is the first non-U.S. archer to win first in the NASP worlds. In the female category, April Bartenschlag of Philo High School, in Ohio, shot a first place score of 291, and the runner up was awarded to Mary Aldridge of Western Hills High School, in Kentucky, with a 290. Attentive readers have noticed that young Ms. Aldridge was the champion of the bulls-eye event and runner-up in the 3D contest. That’s quite a load of trophy hardware going back to Frankfort, Kentucky with her!

In the Middle School Division, male category, Austin Miller of Forestbrook Middle School, in South Carolina, shot a 290 with a total bulls-eye score of 22, and the runner went to Christian Blair who also shot a 290, but with 21 bulls-eyes.

In the female MS category, Findely Stillwell of Forestbrook Middle School, South Carolina shot a 289. Lakyn Wilson of Kentucky’s Southwestern Jefferson County Schools also shot a 289. After the tiebreaker, Findley took first place, and Lakyn was the runner-up.

Bringing in the Elementary Division, Max Wangler of Sarcoxie Elementary, Missouri scored a 289 for top ES male archer honors, and runner up Collin Wehr of Westridge Elementary, Kentucky, shot a 284. Among ES females, first place went to Sarah Bragg of Hartland High School with a 275, and runner up Hope Strickdorn of Crooksville Elementary, Ohio, shot a 274.

The next and last stop in 2015 for many of these 3D archers will be the third and final “star” in the 3-Star 3D Challenge in Ellicottville, New York at the NASP/IBO 3D Outdoor Worlds. That competition will be two events in one. Single event awards will be contested, and those who participated in the other two “stars” at the NASP Nationals in Louisville and NASP Worlds in Nashville will also vie for the 3-star series awards. Cash scholarships will be presented.

By all accounts, archers, their teachers/coaches, and family had a terrific time in Nashville. The competition included the best of the best from five countries.

The event owes much to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) host of this year’s world tournament. TWRA provided most of the volunteer lane officials and equipment to conduct another safe and fun event. NASP supporting companies such as Morrell Targets, provided all the targets, and Easton Technical Products provided arrows. Academy Sports and Outdoors was this year’s sponsor for the awards ceremony, and souvenir t-shirts were made available by Electronic Awards Promos. All of NASP’s medal level sponsors may be viewed at

Participating countries included: US, Canada, UK, South Africa, and Namibia.
Participating countries included: US, Canada, UK, South Africa, and Namibia.

As the tournament concluded, and the archers boarded their planes, or prepared for the long road trip home, they left knowing they had experienced much more than competition. They built their confidence and practiced great sportsmanship while doing what they love and excel at, in a safe environment.

So what’s next on the agenda for NASP? As archers arrive home, they will begin practicing for the 2016 NASP Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, and the next NASP World Tournament, June 2016, at beautiful Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where students will trade boots and hats for flip-flops (except while shooting) and surely get sand in their toes!

For complete results of the 2015 World Tournament go to: Until then, happy shooting!

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About National Archery in the Schools Program

The National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) promotes student education, physical education and participation in the lifelong sport of Archery. The mission of NASP is to promote international-style target archery as part of the in-school curriculum, to improve educational performance and participation in the shooting sports among students in grades 4-12.

For more information, please visit