The Vegas Experience
This year, Randwick club member Luke Christie attended the prestigious Vegas Indoor shoot, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Read all about Luke's experience at the biggest archery tournament in the world!
This year I attended arguably the biggest archery competition in the world, the Vegas Shoot held in Las Vegas, Nevada. This shoot is considered to be the pinnacle event for archery, the ”Super Bowl” of archery, and it definitely exceeded my expectations. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer number of competitors there. The Vegas Shoot resulted in just shy of 4000 entries across the various divisions, while on-top of this there was a USA Archery event the days before with 1000 school kids competing. Just short of 5000 archers were at the venue during the week.
Travelling there was the hardest part, due to the massive rain storm hitting Auckland the day before. This meant my original flights were cancelled, and I had to rebook my entire trip the day before leaving. After 3 flights, and a 13-hour layover in Auckland, I made it to Las Vegas. I arrived a few days before the competition mostly to do some touristy things (visits to the Grand Canyon & Hoover Dam etc) and also to simply take in the Vegas landscape.
The competition opens on the Wednesday with registration at the venue - South Point Hotel & Casino which is located on the southern end of the Las Vegas strip. Registration is when you get your competitor's pass and a goodie bag filled with souvenirs from the shoot. This is when the practice halls open, yes multiple halls. These are filled with targets which can be used 24-hours a day during the competition should you want to get some extra practice in.
The shoot has multiple divisions open to anyone, be it Championship (which is where you’ll find the pros etc) and also various “flight” divisions which cater for those wanting a more relaxed/sociable experience. The competition is obviously a compound bow dominated event, but don’t let that fool you. The tournament is also open to recurve, barebow, and even crossbow archers.
Thursday is the official “first day” of the competition. This is also when the Vegas Shoot trade show starts which runs the remainder of the week. This trade show is filled with all the major archery brands to showcase their new products and sell direct to the public. Having a chance to speak to the companies about their products, see them in the hand, and even them test out (yes there are shooting areas to test the latest bows) is so beneficial to understanding what is right for you.
Thursday was when I got to shoot in the main arena for the first time. Seeing it on tv and then shooting there was a surreal experience. The main arena, like the other shooting halls, had approximately 60 target bales, with 4 archers to a bale, and these were always full.
Friday was the first day of scoring. Along with the main arena, there were 4 additional shooting halls running throughout the days. Archers are split into shooting groups, which run at various times. I chose to shoot in the Championship Open division, which allowed me to shoot with the best in the world. Sharing a target bale with some of the top archers was surreal - they were super welcoming and easy to chat with about anything be it archery or just random things.
Saturday was my best scoring day at the competition. After having the experience of the day before, I simply soaked in the event and enjoyed being in the arena with some great people. After this round all archers are re-seeded based on their scores from the first two days and your next shooting group is decided.
Saturday is also when the World Archery Indoor Series finals are held. The Vegas Shoot is the final event in the World Archery indoor series calendar which resulted in the best in the world battling it out for the series title.
Sunday was the final day of the competition. After the re-seeding process I was moved to the 7am shooting group. This was the most relaxed I felt given the group was filled with people with similar shooting skill to me, so we just enjoyed the final time out and shared our experience from the week.
Sunday night is finals time, which consists of shoot-offs for the money prizes. Top prize in the Championship Open division was $57,000. To qualify for these shoot-offs archers need to score 3 consecutive perfect rounds. The shoot-offs involve any division that has more than 1 archer tied with a perfect score. These shoot-offs are completed in the main arena where I had spent the last 4 days shooting, which allowed for a crowd in the thousands. This is also when the NFAA (who run the competition) announce all the various scholarships they provide to archers across the country, as well as winners of USA Archery competitions held throughout the previous year.
My takeaways from the experience are a new appreciation for where archery in New Zealand is when you think of the sport globally; how polished and consistent the best truly are, but also how welcoming and supportive the archery community as a whole can be. Throughout the week people wanted to share their story about why they’re there, and what keeps them coming back each year. The Vegas Shoot is definitely a “bucket list” level event that I’m glad I’ve experienced. Seeing it on tv and speaking to people who have gone doesn’t fully give you an appreciation for how big this event is. You will not find a bigger, or better event to go to.
My advice to anyone is if you have a chance to go, go. You will not regret it. The only question I have now is when will I get to go again?!
Written by Luke Christie.