Last week, two Chapmanville Middle School students traveled to Louisville, Kentucky to compete in the NASP (National Archery in The Schools Program) Eastern National Competition.

Eighth-graders Lydia Ratz and Jacob Blair took home the top honors at the West Virginia NASP State Tournament held in March in the Middle School Division.This earned them the right to compete against the best archers in the country. Almost 15,000 students competed in last weeks event. Each of the competitors had earned the right to compete by being the top Archers in their respective home state.

This tournament was the best of the best from across the nation. As if that wasn't enough pressure, the archers were competing in the largest archery tournament in the world.

The NASP National Tournament has broken the world record several times for being the largest. It will still be some time before they know if this year's event broke the record yet again.

Throw in the noise from the crowd of onlookers and all the vendors and food services that are at the venue and it really shows the concentration and focus the archers must possess to compete at this level. From a glance at the scoreboard no one would ever know that there was anything but archers shooting at targets down range going on.

Students have trained for years for their shot at the national title and it showed. Each archer shoots a total of 30 scored arrows for a possible 300 points. The arrows are shot in groups of 5 from a distance of 10 and 15 meters.

Scoring takes place after each archer has shot 5 arrows and then they repeat the process. The amazing thing is that each archer is shooting the same type of equipment with no fancy gadgets or aiming devices. It levels the playing field and is a true measure of the skill of the archer.

What is even more impressive is watching these students consistently shoot scores from 290 to 300 points. Yes, there are students who never let an arrow fall out side of a tennis ball sized 10 ring! Scoring a perfect 300 is an impressive task and watching as it is accomplished is nothing short of astounding.

The competition doesn't stop there. The top 100 archers from each division at the national competition move on to the Championship. This event will host archers not just from the United States, but several other countries as well. The top archers are already making their plans to be in Nashville, Tennessee, at the end of July to settle the score and see who is truly the best of the best!

So, how did the archers from Chapmanville fair against the thousands of other competitors you might ask. After all the arrows had been shot and counted, Lydia Ratz was ranked 24th in the Nation in the Middle School Female division and is headed to compete in the Championship in July.

Not to be outdone, Jacob Blair also punched his ticket to compete for the Championship and shot well enough to be ranked 8th in the nation and, also, be named to the 2019 NASP All-American Academic Team.

Over the next few months these archers will continue to practice and hone their skill and be ready to represent their school and state in the tournament in July.

Not many athletes get to say they competed at a national level, and even less get to continue on to compete with the best of the best.

It is a huge accomplishment, not only for the local archers, but for all the students who have practiced and spent countless hours on the range to earn their chance.

They all deserve a huge round of applause and if you happen to bump into these two Logan County archers, be sure to wish them good luck. I would, however, caution you to not challenge them to an archery tournament!

Roger Wolfe is an avid outdoorsman and has spent most of his life hunting and fishing and writes a weekly outdoors column for HD Media. He is a resident of Chapmanville and can be reached via email at wolfeii@hotmail.com.

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