West Virginia's annual Archery in the Schools tournament is going virtual this year, and the state Division of Natural Resources is giving teams more chances to participate by extending the event to three days and removing a qualifying round.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has created some challenges, but archery is a safe sport where you can socially distance and we wanted to make sure kids have every opportunity to shoot sometime this year," Kayla Donathan, coordinator of WVDNR's Archery in the Schools program, said in a press release.

This year's tournament will occur from March 25-27 to allow school-based archery teams ample time for students to shoot competitive rounds in their own facility, the release noted. The 2020 AIS state tournament was canceled due to Covid-19, making this year the first competition since 2019.

Qualifying protocol has changed this year.

"In past years, teams had to qualify to make it to the state tournament," said Donathan. "Because in-person tournaments are limited this year, we are opening the virtual state tournament to any school that has an archery program, which gives some students from smaller schools an opportunity to possibly place in the state tournament and move on to nationals."

Teams will participate by shooting a competitive round and submitting scores through a database that will automatically rank and determine winners. "We encourage all of our school archery programs to participate this year," Donathan said.

For more information about the tournament format and rules, visit wvdnr.gov/archery/Tournament.shtm.

Donathan said the national tournament on May 6-8 also will be virtual and is open to any participating schools.

Schools that teach NASP® archery (WV Archery in the Schools) as part of the in-school curriculum are invited to compete in the tournament.

Shooting divisions for teams and individuals are:

Elementary school — grades 4-5;

Middle school — grades 6-8; and

High school — grades 9-12.

Visit http://www.wvdnr.gov/archery/PDFFiles/2020-21%20Virtual%20State%20Tournament%20Rules%20(1).pdf to view the full 2021 virtual state tournament rules.

West Virginia's free Archery in the Schools program started in 2013 with 18 pilot schools and has since grown to include more than 300 schools across the state.

For more information, email Donathan at kayla.m.donathan@wv.gov.

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