Vegas, it seems, has been on every archer’s mind lately. What makes Sin City so special for archery fans?
1. Sun. Fun. And, hey, it’s tradition.
The Vegas Shoot, sponsored by the National Field Archery Association, began in the 1960s, originally held at the Sands Casino (think: Rat Pack) in Old Las Vegas. The tournament has traditionally attracted the largest crowds of the indoor archery season – in the winter months – because of its close proximity to sunny weather, (relatively) cheap hotels, and entertainment.
2. It’s where history and the future of archery meet.
The tournament, which has been home to archery’s greatest legends and newest beginners – and everyone in between – has made its journey from the Sands to the Sahara to the Riviera, and now to the South Point Hotel and Casino. The South Point, just off the Strip, is just big enough to accommodate the 2,200 archers who shot the tournament this past weekend.
3. Slow night? That’s okay. Archer-watch in the casino.
When arriving at The Vegas Shoot, the overwhelming feeling is one of camaraderie: from baggage claim at the airport to the check-in line at the hotel, one is completely surrounded by other archers and their bows, arrows and bowcases, creating an immediate and amazing sense of community. Though archers are divided into three shooting halls in the Casino and shoot at different times each day, sport newbies rub elbows with the world’s best at restaurants and bars, and new friends from across the world are made on the shooting line.
4. Anything can happen.
Archery dreams are made and crushed at the Vegas Shoot, as easily as they are at the nickel slots you can hear ringing in your ears for days after you arrive home. The tournament format is simple: you shoot ten ends (consisting of three arrows per end), a total of thirty arrows per day – for 300 possible points per day. Archers practice on Thursday, and shoot for score on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
5. Close competition for serious paychecks.
Archers competing in Vegas score “outer tens” – which means the largest of the two rings in the yellow on a multicolored target face. Thanks to this scoring format, there are typically ten or more compound archers who are tied for first place at the end of the weekend with a perfect score of 900. Divisions with ties have what’s called a “Shootdown” on the last day of the event, and tensions run high – because in some divisions, the payout for first place is as much as $25,000.
6. Global competition: a mini-Olympics?
World Archery has made The Vegas Shoot one of the stops on its Indoor Archery World Cup circuit. What this means is LOTS of international participation at The Vegas Shoot, and an additional spectator-friendly archery event, usually held on the Saturday evening of the tournament. The Indoor World Cup Final is held in conjunction with the Vegas Shoot, but is a separate event, and archers qualify by shooting other events on the Indoor World Cup circuit as well as the Vegas Shoot. The Final consists of elimination round matchplay – which means archers are ranked according to performance and then placed into brackets to determine who shoots against who. As archers win their matches, they advance in the bracket until they’ve earned their way into a medal match.
7. Because, in the end, it’s three days of pure archery awesomeness.
This weekend’s tournament saw record participation for The Vegas Shoot, five medals for Team USA in the Indoor World Cup Final, and Vegas Shoot cash prizes awarded to Mike Schloesser of the Netherlands (men’s compound), Americans Sarah Lance (women’s compound) and Brady Ellison (men’s recurve) and Kim Yu Mi of Korea (women’s recurve) for finishing in first place.