Yankton Archery Complex Becomes Destination For National Training


By Nathan Johnson nathan.johnson@yankton.net

With archery gaining in popularity across the United States, people from around the nation are at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Complex this week to learn more about the sport and take those ideas back home. The first set of eyes on the facility is a small group of parks and recreation officials who are participating in a week-long educational course sponsored by the Easton Foundation. According to Doug Engh, outreach director for the Easton Foundation, the program was initiated this year in collaboration with the National Recreation and Park Association to train city and county parks and rec officials about how to run a commercial archery program. A total of six individuals received grants to visit Yankton, and another six were chosen to go to the Easton Newberry (Fla.) Sports Complex. Participants are taught to deal with training volunteer staffs, managing a budget and converting a facility to archery uses, among other things. “They are not only learning the commercial aspects of the sport but also being trained and certified as level two instructors through USA Archery and the National Field Archery Association,” Engh said. “That makes it so they can go back and train level-one instructors in a one-day class.” In addition to the training, the officials receive $5,000 to purchase archery equipment to improve their programs or get them up and running.

Also Wednesday, Gene Sherry, executive director of Georgia Southern University’s campus recreation and intramurals, was at the Yankton complex for a site visit. The university in Statesboro, Ga., is currently in the planning stages of a joint archery and firearms facility, and is looking at Yankton and other locations for ideas. “Archery is a large, large sport and very inclusive,” Sherry said. “From a recreational director standpoint, it is something you should strive to have in your program because the age level, strength level, speed level or size level doesn’t matter.” Georgia Southern began discussion of its facility almost two years ago and hopes to break ground in the fall. Sherry called the Yankton complex an outstanding example. “When you have designated space of this magnitude to a sport, it is really doing it right,” he said. “This expansion (to an indoor 70-meter range) is awesome.” It was hard to convince Georgia Southern and other universities that are pursuing archery centers to make such a leap in the past because there was no model to show them, Engh said. “(Sherry) might have been pitched on an idea, but he doesn’t want to take the risk of an unproven sport,” he stated. “Now, he can see the partnerships Yankton has and its expansions.” Meanwhile, in a classroom at the complex, archery coach M.J. Rogers taught a group of three parks and rec officials. It consisted of Robin Bonaventura of Cincinnati, Jered Hoover of Woodstock, Va., and John Corriveau of Saginaw, Mich. Each has a different level of experience with archery. Bonaventura is already a level-two instructor and has been involved with an archery program for some time. Corriveau has overseen an archery program for a couple of years, and Hoover had never shot a bow prior to Wednesday. “I feel like, being here, I’m learning from one of the best coaches in the country at a great facility,” Hoover said. “The way I look at it, I’m leaving here in pretty good shape. “Archery in our county needs an uplifting of some sort,” he continued. “This is the perfect way to get it started. It’s been a blessing seeing the knowledge and facility here, because it leads me to know I can do something in my community.” With the experience and contacts he is making in the Yankton class, Corriveau said he hopes to reach his goal of building an indoor archery facility within the next five years. He said programs like this in his profession are rare — and the money to buy equipment after completion is even rarer. With budget constraints around the country, it is difficult for such a program to get started. “Thanks to this, you get the equipment so the (community) doesn’t have to spend any money, and they get to see the results,” Corriveau said. “We go home with the capability of hitting the ground running. That’s crucial.” Bonaventura acknowledged that archery is popular because it is accessible to people of various skills and physical abilities, but added, “It also helps that Hollywood is helping us (with ‘The Hunger Games’ movie).” Rogers said it has been a challenge teaching an archery class with such a diverse skill level among participants. However, he hopes the final impact is the same on all the students. “They are going to be back home like mosquitoes in a nudist colony,” he stated. “They are going to want to indoctrinate everyone they see. The caution is, they are going to have to feed that out in bits and pieces.” You can follow Nathan Johnson on Twitter at twitter.com/AnInlandVoyage