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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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Weekdays: 9am - 9pm
Saturday: 10am - 7pm
Sunday: 12pm - 7pm

World Outdoor Archery Festival Begins

The first day of the World Outdoor Archery Festival began Saturday in Yankton with over 100 archers competing in the USA Archery (USAA) National Field Championships, on the Dakota Range at Gavins Point Recreation Area.

“It is a tournament where they go out and shoot distances,” National Field Archery Association (NFAA) president Bruce Cull said. “(Saturday), they shoot unknown, unmarked distances up to a maximum of 60 meters. (Sunday), they shoot marked distances. They start at 9 a.m. and are out there pretty much all day.”

The 100 archers are divided into different categories based on gender, age and type of equipment being used. The youngest age division is 11 and under, but the youngest archer in the tournament is 5 years old, Cull said. In the adult divisions, the oldest archers are between 80 and 90.

Chairmen of judges Brian Ficker said the unmarked course used in Saturday's competition is meant to challenge the archers and each individual is responsible for his or her own scoring.

“The field course is a roving course with 24 stations. The first day is an unmarked course so the tournament director has the discretion of where he sets those unmarked pegs at,” Ficker said. “Pegs are colored for different classes of archers, set at random distances - anywhere from 5 yards to 60 yards. The scoring is a 6-ring target. The center-gold is 6, and then it counts backwards by one for each ring. Each archer is responsible for their own scorecard, cross-checked by team members.”

Danny Button is shooting in the Cadet division at age 15. Using the more contemporary compound bow, Button said the first day of competition went well.

“It's going good, been pretty fun so far,” he said. “This course is beautiful, one of the best I've ever shot. There are a lot of hills and different terrain to work with. Heat hasn't really affected me yet because we get a lot of heat in Wisconsin. I've been drinking water which has probably kept me going.”

Cull said archers had been blessed this weekend as the humidity had decreased and wasn't raining, but all types of weather can have an impact on shots.

“They're very used to shooting in different types of weather. It doesn't matter where in the country you go to this time of year, heat and rain is possible, they're pretty prepared for that,” he said. “It looks like weather is going to be pretty normal for us this next week. Last week would have definitely been interesting - it would have been hard on them to deal with the heat and humidity.”

Ficker said staying hydrated while traveling the course was important on Saturday as temps reached the 90s.

“We're trying to highly encourage folks to stay hydrated throughout the day. We have water stations throughout the course for them to stay healthy,” he said. “A lot of folks have done this before so they know how to prepare. We try and encourage because of the weather change - the humidity will drain you quicker than anything - and try to keep folks informed.”

The National Field Championships is just the beginning to the World Outdoor Archery Festival. After Sunday's marked round, the National Target Championships begin on Monday, including long and short distances, as well as the Hoyt World Open.

The festival ends next Sunday with the Pan American Games Team Trials.

“This is the first time all three tournaments have been held here. We have held several national tournaments, but never have we had them all here,” Cull said. “A lot of neat things are going on. As people compete, people that compete in all four tournaments get entered into a drawing for a car we're giving away. For the pro-shooters that are here, there will be about $50,000 given out in contingencies, so it's a big tournament for them.”

Because it is such a large archery festival, Cull said archers from all 50 states, as well as foreign countries will be represented in at least one of the tournaments.

In her first NFAA field round, Allison Eaton said the first day of competition went well. After competing for nine years, she said she decided to compete this year because field archery is very popular.

“Part of it was they were having it the same time as nationals here, I always come to the target nationals, but the other thing is I'm from North Carolina and we don't have any target tournaments, there's a lot of field events,” she said. “In order to just shoot tournaments, I started shooting field tournaments in North Carolina and found it was a lot of fun.”

Button and Eaton will compete in the other tournaments part of the festival this week, and Ficker said he will be a judge at all the tournaments as well.

Having archers from far away for over a week brings a different view of archery to the community, Cull said.

“It's really neat for the community to see. One thing about archers is they're a very close-knit group. A lot of families, a lot of camaraderie - it's an annual event for a lot of archers where they see friends and family here,” he said. “It's really neat. The community sees it and really likes it. The economic impact is huge. When you have 800 people here and some for 11 days, it's a big deal for the community. The archers really enjoy it here.”

While some of the archers compete just to have fun, Cull said the best of the best in the world are competing in the tournaments, including past and present Olympic medal winners.

The USAA Field Championships continue today (Sunday) at Gavins Point Rec Area, starting at 9 a.m.

Yankton Native Soaks In Top Competition

Among the over 100 competitors in Saturday's first round of the USA Archery (USAA) National Field Championships was Tyndall resident Jon Straub.

Having already completed Unmarked Field Round, Straub was alone on the practice range Saturday afternoon, roasting in the 95-degree weather.

Undeterred, Straub - who works in Yankton - made time after emptying his quiver to rave about the other archers competing at the tournament.

“This is awesome to have something like this right here. We don't get a chance to shoot with these guys otherwise,” said Straub, who said he shoots at the Easton Archery Center four to five days a week, but prefers the latter.

“These are some of the best archers in the world, and they're in our backyard.”

With the NFAA headquarters now based in Yankton and the USA Archery Field Championships coming to town for the first time, Straub said he understands the allure of such a host.

“This is a world-class facility,” he said. “It puts Yankton on the map, even across the world. People want to come here because of how things are run.”

Asked about some of the other shooters he competed with on Saturday, Straub said he couldn't pinpoint just one person who made a difference.

“The list is long,” he said, smiling.

Among the archers Straub said he is anxious to meet is 22-year-old Brady Ellison, who earlier this year was the No. 2-ranked archer in the world.

Another is Khatuna Lorig, who is from the country of Georgia and now competes for USA Archery. The 36 year old has the rare distinction of representing three different countries in the Olympic Games - For the former Soviet Union in 1992, for Georgia in 1996 and for the United States in 2000.

“I would love to meet her,” Straub said. “All my heroes are archers; that's the honest truth. I wouldn't prefer to meet an NFL player or a famous baseball player.

“I'd rather meet the best archers in the world.”