Hays/Lodge Pole Archery Winners Announced, State Competition Around the Corner


February 22, 2023

The Hays/Lodge Pole Archery Club recently completed its second season with the completion of their second annual Archery Tournament. Hays/Lodge Pole is one of just a handful of schools offering the opportunity to their students but slowly that number is increasing. The Hays/Lodge Pole archery program has been actively shooting since November and this year included Junior High Students in addition to the High School. The Archery Tournament included 80 students competing for top honors in each class with a girls and boys division. Instructor Rod Benson stated, "It was the second year for the High School competition, but the first year Junior High students. There were about 80 students that competed, including 55 from the High School as well as 25 from the Junior High." Benson followed by noting, "The High School students started shooting once a week at the start of November and the Junior High program started in early January."

As was the case a year ago Hay/Lodge Pole is a part of the 'National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP)'. This program got its start in Kentucky back in 2002 and has since spread to nearly every state and is gaining popularity in Montana. Benson said, "The program is run by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks education specialist Ryan Schmaltz who has worked hard to train instructors, support programs like the one at Hays/Lodge Pole and promote competitions."

Benson explains what Instructors are required to do, "NASP requires that instructors implement strict safety rules, use specific bows, arrows, and targets, and set up archery ranges according to their guidelines. In NASP competitions, archers each shoot three rounds, 5 arrows per round, from 10 meters and three rounds from 15 meters. If a student were to get a bull's eye on every one of their 30 shots, their score would be 300 which is what it took to win the boys' national championship last spring."

Benson was proud to announce the Tournament winners, "In the junior high boys' division, eighth-grader Ethan Jones was crowned the champion with a score of 233, with Taeson Doney (8th) finishing second (209). Mitch Grant and Ashton Stricker (both 7th graders) tied for third with scores of 188. Amara Speakthunder won the jr. High girls' tournament with a 211. Starlit Blackcrow was second (188) and Alissa Whitford took third (175), all are eighth graders."

Sophomore Shailee Shambo tied her own school record with a score of 250 to win the high school girls' competition. Senior Monique Gray finished second with a 235, and junior Haley Cichosz shot a 231 to finish third. On the boys' side, junior Byron Werk won with a score of 252, just one point short of the school record. Junior Will Hughes shot a 241 to finish in second. Senior Daniel Henry and sophomore Brad Snell both shot a 237 to finish in a tie for third.

The top ten finishers in the high school boys' and girls' competition earned Hays/Lodge Pole Archery Hoodies. Benson was thrilled to award them, "The Hoodies were given by The Blue Heaven Ranch near Hays owned and operated by Liz and Toby Werk." The top three finishers in the Junior High competitions also received hoodies. Trophies for the champions and hoodies for the top finishers were presented at the Thunderbird pep assembly on February 15 prior to the basketball teams' departure for the District 9C tournament.

Benson talks about what's next for the program, "Over the next several weeks the Hays/Lodge Pole program will focus on team competitions. Next up is a small one-day high school-only tournament at Paris Gibson School in Great Falls on Wednesday, February 22. Hays/Lodge Pole plans to take the top ten boys and girls to compete. NASP uses an interesting co-ed scoring system. Team scores are determined by adding your best four girls' scores plus the best four boys' scores plus the next best four scores (no matter the gender)."

The season will finish up with some big events said Benson, "The Great Falls competition should serve as a good primer for the state competition, which will be held at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds in Helena on March 28th. This will be Montana's first NASP state tournament, and Hays/Lodge Pole plans to take a competitive team. The tournament is also open to junior high students, so I will need to find out whether or not I can take some of ours. After the Great Falls competition, I will start focusing on planning and preparation for the state tournament. I've promised the students one more 'last chance tournament' in early March to give them another shot at cracking the top 10 and making it onto the state team."


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