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NFAA Easton Yankton
Archery Complex

800 Archery Lane
Yankton, SD 57078
605-260-9282
info@neyac.org

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Saturday: 10am - 7pm
Sunday: 12pm - 7pm

Officials Break Ground on Trailblazing Archery Center

When the CEO of Easton-Hoyt visited Yankton last fall, he didn't expect that a Regional Center of Archery Excellence would ever be built here.

But the leadership demonstrated by those interested in making the project a reality quickly changed Erik Watts' mind.

"The fact that the city, the county and the state had all come together with such an incredible plan to help support the National Field Archery Association move here from California blew me away," he said. "I had not seen a community come together that quickly with such strong plans."

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Watts, along with a vast array of city, county and state officials, was in Yankton Wednesday to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for a facility that will house the National Field Archery Association's (NFAA) national headquarters, an archery museum and the Regional Center of Archery Excellence.

The more than 20,000 square-foot facility with five outdoor ranges will be built on 39 acres of land donated to the NFAA by Yankton and Yankton County. The site is located behind Yankton's Super 8 and Best Western Kelly Inn.

The NFAA originally announced its plans in September to relocate its headquarters from Redland, Calif., to Yankton. It is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the sport of archery and has 19,000 members.

The announcement that a Regional Center of Archery Excellence would accompany the NFAA headquarters came in November.

The Regional Center portion of the facility is being funded by the Easton Sports Development Foundation (ESDF) and will be the first in the nation. Several others are currently in planning stages, and Watts said the ESDF plans to build 12 of them across the country in order to promote archery and encourage Americans to become Olympic-level archery competitors.

"Our vision is to have a dozen regional facilities that will all offer the same world-class quality of training and instruction," Watts said. "This is the first one to get started. This is the model. We'll figure it out as we go. When we're done here, we'll take this plan on the road to the next city."

Bruce Cull, president of the NFAA and co-owner of Yankton's Dakota Archery & Outdoor Sports, said he's glad to finally break ground on the project.

"It's a start to the progress a lot of people have done a lot of work for," he said. "All the organizations here today and all the organizations that have put forth their efforts financially and otherwise have made this a reality for Yankton."

Construction will begin this week, and Cull said he expects the project to be completed by the end of the summer.

"The facility is going to have so many neat things that are hunting-related and archery-related that the sky is almost the limit," he said. He pointed to the various educational and training programs that will take place there, as well as the museum.

"All those could lead to things we just don't know yet," Cull added. "Obviously, it's going to bring people into town for a lot of different reasons."

He also hopes the archery center's location in Yankton will convince archery manufacturers to relocate to the city.

"I think that's something that's going to come even sooner than we realize," Cull said. "I think once they get here and see things, it will be a lot like Easton when they saw it. They realized our location is pretty darn central. The cost of doing things here is considerably cheaper, and it's a great community with everything going for it."

That vision is shared by Ron Kraft, Yankton's interim economic development director.

"A lot of those companies are small companies that are easy to assimilate into your community," he said. "They could fit here very nicely. We'll keep talking to them and see what happens."

Attracting such businesses fits in nicely with the state's plan for economic development, according to Jeff Brusseau, sales manager for the Governor's Office of Economic Development. The sporting industry is one of six industries targeted by the state.

"It's a very mature industry, but at the same time, there are a lot of states around the country that are putting out the "Not Welcome" sign for these types of businesses," Brusseau said. "In South Dakota, we welcome it. It's part of our culture."

Jeff Vonk, secretary of the state Game, Fish and Parks Department, said his agency is aiming to be involved with the center, as well.

"We're clearly interested in a facility like this because of what it provides for opportunity for sportsmen," he said. "Going forward, this facility will add tremendous value for our folks who have an interest in archery and archery hunting. We're going to continue to talk to these folks about what additional ways the department can cooperate and assist in events."

In the short term, Yankton is already set to benefit from its association with the archery world. Two national tournaments will be held here this summer, and the city has already secured a world tournament in 2009. Those events will bring in thousands of visitors who will spend millions of dollars locally, Cull said.

"You've got a huge influx of new money, and it's all frosting on the cake," Kraft said.