What started with the smash movie hit “The Hunger Games” a year ago, the sport of archery has gathered more and more momentum and popularity. The Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Archery Club, which meets twice a week, immediately saw its numbers spike upward.
And now that momentum and popularity will come right up to the doorstep of Miami Springs this weekend. That’s because, thanks to the efforts of many over the last nine months, the Miami Springs Community Center will serve as a host site for the FAA/NFAA 2013 Indoor State Championship Archery Tournament.
The event will kick off this Friday, March 8, with the Official Opening Ceremony at 6:30 p.m., and run all weekend, concluding on Sunday afternoon, March 10. The gymnasium will be closed to all regular weekend activities and set up with archery targets everywhere as approximately 130 sharpshooters from as far away as Central Florida will converge on Miami Springs to vie for the championship.
“This has been a lot of hard work by a lot of hard-working, dedicated people and we’re just really excited that we’ve been able to bring a big event like this to Miami Springs,” said MS/VG Archery Club president Mark Bain, who has seen the numbers in his club grow significantly in the last 12 months. “We have really gone out of our way to make this a first-class event and really want to impress the participants because it is our every intention to make sure we get this back here again.”
The event actually will be two tournaments wrapped into one. Following Friday’s 6:30 p.m. opening ceremonies where the local boy scouts will present the colors and the Miami Springs Elementary Chorus will perform the national anthem and pledge of allegiance, the NAA (National Archery Association) tournament will commence at 7 p.m. with a “first-shoot,” where each archer will get 60 shots. The second and final round with 60 more shots will be Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, the NFAA (National Field Archery Association) will begin its competition on Saturday morning. Opening ceremonies will take place at 7:30 a.m. with the Miami Springs Civil Air Patrol presenting the colors and Miami Springs Senior High School student Christina Engleman performing the national anthem, followed by the first round at 8 a.m. A second and third round will follow at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., climaxing with fourth and fifth rounds on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.
In case anyone thinks this will be only out-of-town competitors coming in, guess again. Jeff Steele, a retired Miami Springs police officer, is in the field, as well as Susan Baan, wife of Springs police chief Pete Baan, and Bain himself. Plover Avenue residents Antonio Ortega and Michael Cusine are entered as well.
“The Hunger Games” craze has gotten kids involved in the sport and a pair of brothers, Chris Thompson and Josh Thompson, 13 and 12, respectively and who attend Miami Springs Adventist School, will be ready with their bows and arrows.
Cost to get in and enjoy the action? The answer everyone loves to hear: FREE!
“No charge to get in,” said Bain. “We would love to see lots of people come out and see a great event and we are determined to make this a first-class event. We have gone to a lot of trouble to make sure the contestants are well taken care of and will provide them with complimentary state tournament T-shirts, snacks and drinks.”
Snacks and drinks will be on sale for all of those who attend. Bain has also made arrangements for a shuttle to be available to get contestants off toward the Circle, where the Miami Springs Optimist Club will be holding its Third Annual BBQ Blast Cookoff all day on Saturday. A deal also was struck with the Comfort Inn & Suites (5301 NW 36th St.) for out-of-towners to get a special rate.
Deals were also struck with notable eateries such as JR’s Burgers, Woody’s West End Tavern, Tom’s NFL, Burritoville and the Hurricane Bar & Grill, to name a few, where contestants will be handed a pass that they can show when they go eat and get a special discount.
“I can’t thank the City of Miami Springs, especially (City Manager) Ron Gorland and (Recreation Director) Omar Luna, enough for all of their help cooperation in getting this thing off the ground,” said Bain. “It takes a lot of people, including our own archery group, to work together to make it a success and we feel real confident that it’s going to be a special weekend.”