NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - North Myrtle Beach is quickly becoming the city for unique sporting events, as the first archery tournament in the city fires off.
Hundreds of students armed with their bows and arrows will be looking for a bullseye at the South Carolina regional tournament. It's known as the National Archery in Schools Program or NSAP. NSAP is a joint venture with the SC Departments of Education and the Department of Natural Resources.
The two-day event invites about 500 archers, grades 4th through 12th, from across the state, to compete against each other. Winners can move all the way to the national level to compete in Louisville, Kentucky.
Organizers stress how this is more than just a competition. There's an educational push behind the sport.
In a survey conducted by Responsive Management teachers, this program improves student self-confidence, motivation, attitudes and behavior, in and out of the classroom.
"I've had students, teachers tell me that by being on the archery team they seem more confident, they want to do well in class, their grades pick up a little bit," said Physical Education Teacher at Lakewood Elementary School Terry Lee.
Even though this tournament, is happening inside the walls of the J Bryan Floyd Community Center, the guests of about 1,500 people will be in the area for two days, staying, eating and spending, which means the impact is right on target.
The Superintendent of Sports Tourism for the city, Matt Gibbons, said when events like this are here, the impact trickles to our stores, hotels and restaurants.
If you notice, this event is taking place in what's known to be the Grand Strand's slowest time of year. Gibbons says, that's the point. The city focuses on bringing in large-scale sports events when business may be low, to bring those numbers up and keep the city alive.
It also exposes people to the beach who may not have been here before, and lets them see what we have to offer during the summer months. The hope is our one-time guests will make a return visit.
"Our off season is what we focus on," said Gibbons. "You know the summertime there's plenty of people in town, but you know, the off-season is such a great time here in North Myrtle with the reasonable accommodations, there's plenty to do, great weather so we really have an advantage over other areas that are looking for these events as well."
This isn't the first unique sport to hit the city to draw in big crowds, and it won't be the last. There's already about 80 sports tourism events on schedule for the city. Sixty of the 80 events will be held at the new North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex.
In about a month there will be approximately 180 collegiate Ultimate Frisbee throwers in the area, for the High Tide Ultimate Frisbee tournament. The event is relocating from Georgia.
We're not talking about a one-day impact, city sports organizers anticipate this event to create a ripple effect in our area. It will last four weeks, bringing in new teams to stay for an entire week. That means more heads on beds, and customers spending throughout the Grand Strand.
City leaders will continue to focus on bringing in more unique events during the shoulder season.
The archery tournament lasts from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday. It takes place at the J Bryan Floyd Community Center on Possum Trot Road.
It costs $3 for adults and $1 for kids, and WMBF News is told that money goes back into the schools.