NASPPHOENIX — More than 320 student archers from throughout Arizona, participants on the state level of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), will be competing Saturday in the 2016 state tournament and 3D shoot at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department coordinates NASP on the state level and hosts a half-dozen state qualifying tournaments throughout the academic year, beginning in September and ending in March. The top three boys and girls competing in the bullseye and 3D events in three divisions — elementary, middle and high school — will be awarded.

The student archers also will be attempting to qualify for the 2016 national NASP tournament, scheduled for May 12-14 in Louisville, Ky.

The competition will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the FITA and FITA practice ranges. Admission is free. Several local outdoors organizations, as well as a food truck, will be on-site.

The program is a physical education curriculum designed to teach international-style target archery for students in grades 4 through 12. The core content covers safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration, and self-improvement, as well as the history of the sport.

It’s also about having fun. Kelsey Gerchar, the department’s archery education coordinator, said there has been tremendous interest in the NASP/IBO 3D Challenge, where students take shots at six different foam animal targets placed at various distances, then rotate to take shots at each of the remaining targets.

“This interest has led to the introduction of a new NASP bowhunting program the department will be rolling out at the end of the year,” Gerchar said.

Arizona’s Archery in the Schools program is funded through an excise tax on the sale of hunting and shooting sports equipment. No state general funds are used to support the program. Game and Fish administers the program for the purpose of promoting safe, responsible aspects of the sport, as well as wildlife conservation as part of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Act (WSFR). Visit for more information.