The other end of The Vegas Shoot hall

10 February 2018
Las Vegas, NV (USA)
The biggest growth at The Vegas Shoot has been among the amateur ranks.

The Vegas Shoot is generally recognised as the most prestigious open indoor tournament of the year for pros, but the biggest growth has been among recreational archers. The event has doubled in size to over 3500 participants in six years, and now spreads across every available large space in the vast South Point casino hotel. 

But why has it been so successful? I decided to find out the only way I could – by shooting it. 

The earliest line calls were at 7h00, but luckily I managed to avoid that draw and shot my first set of 30 arrows at midday. Everyone in my recurve flight seemed to be approximately the same standard, even across a wide mix of ages.

After the practice arrows, immediately before the first scoring end, there was an awesome moment of silence. The whole hall seemed still. Like we’d all realised where we were. 

It was pretty special. 

This may be a fun tournament for the recreational end of the hall, the flights, but we’d all put some work in somewhere. This was the place to show it off, even just for you or your family. There’s a lot of family in Vegas. 

The sense of theatre didn’t help me much. During the first shot in anger, after two practice ends, I froze up and struggled to get through through the clicker and put the arrow on the face. The first couple of ends were tricky, but after that my shot settled down a bit and I started to be a bit more aggressive with the expansion, and things started to group a lot tighter. Phew. 

I really like the way Vegas dances entirely to its own tune in terms of tournament rules, which is very different to me coming from Europe. 

The ‘bottom’ line – the archers with their faces on the lower half off the boss – always start each end of three arrows. Then at the halfway mark there's a switch from bottom to top. After 15 arrows, you take the face off and replace it on the top or bottom respectively, pushing the washered nails in to the burgeoning bails with your thumbs (ouch).  

Some people change the faces between the practice ends and the scoring ends, too. And this self-service isn’t just for the amateurs. Everyone has to do this jump. You're all in this. You’re all part of it. 

I’ve got to do the same thing as Brady Ellison

My target-mates had been here before, and everyone was helpful. You sensed how good everyone was feeling about this event. It’s a big weekend off, and then you can enjoy Las Vegas as much as you dare. The city is part of it, too. 

I finished my first day in Vegas with 240 out of 300 points, which in recurve flights, gave me a comfortably mediocre mid-table finish. More again tomorrow, but at 9h00. And jitters will be gone. 

My target-mate summed things up pretty well:

“This is my weekend. I only shoot one tournament a year. I come out, I pamper myself, have fun with my archery buddies, and do this. This is what I like doing. This is what I do.”

The first two days of The Vegas Shoot act as the fourth stage of the Indoor Archery World Cup. Full results from the extensive division list at the main tournament are available via Ianseo.

The fourth stage and final of the 2017/2018 Indoor Archery World Cup season takes place in Las Vegas, USA on 9-10 February; The Vegas Shoot concludes on 11 February.