With the Archery Shooters Association (ASA) Pro/Am in Foley, Ala., set for Feb. 22-25, the 2018 outdoor 3-D season is official underway.Funny, it seems like The Vegas Shoot and Lancaster Archery Classic just ended.But it is time to think about foam. To think about shooting animal targets placed at odd distances in varying light conditions. To think about shooting in nasty weather. To think about strategizing.Should I go for the 12? Or shoot a safe 10?The ASA saw tremendous growth last year, and is poised for even more in 2018, according to association president Mike Tyrell. Across all seven tournaments last year, the ASA events averaged about 1,800 participants, with several tournaments hosting over 2,000.“It was definitely a big year for us,” Tyrell said of 2017.Never heard of the ASA?It’s an organization based in Georgia that has hosted tens of thousands of professional and amateur archers from all over the U.S., in national and state-level competitions, since 1993.The ASA has federation chapters in 37 states, with over 9,000 members and 330 clubs. The state-level and national Pro/Am tournaments feature a standardized set of competition rules, professionally set-up ranges, high standards for safety, dress and conduct and some of the largest payouts in competitive 3-D archery.ASA 3-D archery features competitive rounds shooting at lifelike, three-dimensional, foam animal targets with printed scoring rings. The scoring system consists of 14, 12, 10, 8, 5 or 0 points. Zero points are awarded for a miss. A hit anywhere on the body, outside all other scoring rings, earns five points. A hit inside the largest scoring vitals ring, but outside smaller ones, equals eight points. A hit inside the 5-inch circle is worth 10 points. A hit inside one of the two smaller, diagonally-placed circles inside the 10-ring is worth 12 points. (The upper ring only scores 12 points if the archer announces he or she intends to shoot at that ring.) The 14-point ring, located in the upper rear area of the 8 ring, is used only as a bonus ring during shoot-offs.Perhaps the change to the ASA tour this year that could result in the biggest influx of new shooters is the reclassification of Men’s Known 50 and Women’s Known 45 as “semi-pro” classes. (In the “known” classes, the distances from the shooting line to the targets are published by ASA, and archers can use rangefinders to verify those distances. The 50 and 45 designations denote maximum shooting distances of 50 and 45 yards.)According to Tyrell, these classes would allow archers who shoot in pro classes at NFAA or World Archery events, or at the Lancaster Archery Classic, to compete in ASA events without having to shoot against the top pros or the bona fide amateurs.“It gives the spot pros the chance to learn the game – how and where to aim, when to be aggressive, etc. – without being tossed into the deep end of the pool, but also without competing against the pure amateurs, over whom they’d have a decided advantage,” Tyrell said.Expanding the known-distance classes has been ASA’s key to growth in recent years, according to Tyrell. More archers seem inclined to compete if they don’t have to judge target distance for themselves.“If you look at our unknown classes, we’d have less than 1,000 archers without the known classes,” he said.In recent years, ASA has seen many archers, who previously only competed in spot tournaments, turn out at its events to shoot on the known-distance classes. Some of the higher-profile archers to do just that include U.S. Olympian Brady Ellison, two-time Vegas Shoot champ Jesse Broadwater and former World Archery No. 1 compound archer Stephan Hansen of Denmark.Tyrell believes the known classes are directly responsible for the participation explosion in ASA's senior divisions. Those are for archers age 50 and older.“These are the people who really have the time and the money to travel around to our events, and since we’ve made it so they don’t have to judge distance, they’re coming out to shoot in bigger and bigger numbers,” he said.Additionally, Tyrell credited S3DA for leading more archers of all ages to ASA. S3DA is a national organization that follows ASA rules, and which helps kids get into 3-D archery competitions.“So now we have all these kids wanting to come to our events, and their parents are getting into it too, rather than just coming to watch,” he said. “They want to shoot with their kids.”Also new for 2018 is the reintroduction of the strutting turkey to the lineup selection, and the return of the Russian boar. Turkeys were historically tricky targets for archers to judge and shoot, and for ASA range officials to maintain. Tyrell said McKenzie has improved the target to include a replacement core, so a single target can be kept in use for a longer period.The Russian boar was used briefly a few years ago, but was phased out. Now it’s being returned. The standard wild boar, and all other targets used in 2017, will remain in the target lineup.All of the event sites that hosted ASA tournaments in 2017 will be revisited this year - Foley, Ala., Phenix City, Ala., Paris, Texas, Augusta, Ga., London, Ky., Metropolis, Ill., and Cullman, Ala. Tyrell said significant improvements have been made to the London venue to make it safer and more enjoyable for competitors.Archers last year complained about the site, after extensive tree cutting and rain-rutted roads made the footing tricky and the courses an eyesore.“We feel very good we’ve created a more productive environment for everyone to come to,” Tyrell said.Here’s a link to the 2018 ASA Tour Guide, which has all the locations, rules and information you’ll need to get in on the action this year.