Freestyle open championship shootdown | The Vegas Shoot 2018

5 things I never knew about The Vegas Shoot

1 March 2018
Las Vegas, NV (USA)
Learnings of a first-timer at the world’s biggest indoor archery tournament.

Like many others, it was my first time at The Vegas Shoot when I visited in 2018. It was a year that saw record numbers (again) turn out to try their luck, with over 3550 people – many like me, an amateur in the flights – making the trip to Nevada.

It was also, by far, the biggest event I had ever shot – and, while I was prepared for parts, The Vegas Shoot threw up plenty that I just didn’t expect.

Expectation: It’s a holiday and I’d be at full speed for every moment of it.
Reality: You need to be pretty careful with your time

This isn’t just turn up, get your bow ready, score and be out. The Vegas Shoot is such a large event that you need to add extra time for pretty much anything and everything.

The South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa, which hosts the tournament, is enormous – just getting from the coffee shop to the shooting halls is a good eight minute walk, and at peak times there are lines for everything from the practice ranges to the lifts.

You need to be careful to allow extra time – and energy – to your shooting schedule. 

Las Vegas is, of course, a city that never sleeps – and neither do those practice ranges, which open 24 hours – and has no shortage of distractions, most of which don’t sit well with 7h00 line calls. 

If you’re going to shoot well, you need to stay a little disciplined! 

Expectation: I’d perform consistently over the three days of competition.
Reality: Manage your expectations carefully

It’s always painful to not shoot your best, and it’s much worse when its at a big, expensive event like The Vegas Shoot, which takes place over multiple days.

The best advice is just to enjoy it and not worry about the score – but we all know how difficult that is. You need to be prepared for whatever archery can throw at you; and make sure to enjoy the event anyway – or have a back-up plan if it’s not going right.
For the championship compound archers, who have to put in a perfect 300  three days in a row to make the final, it’s a rough break to drop an arrow out of the 10-ring on the first day, knowing they’ll have to compete for two more days.

Although it might not be as rough as shooting 89 perfect arrows and then dropping the very last arrow of the three days out of the 10 ring, as happened to more than one of the contenders in 2018.

Expectation: The big finale of The Vegas Shoot is a long endurance event.
Reality: The championship shootdown doesn’t go on forever.

I was under the impression that the famous championship shootdowns went on all night until someone missed an arrow.

Actually, in recent years, it’s been over pretty quickly, as the competition switches from the big ‘Vegas’ (or recurve) 10-ring to only the small inner-10 ring or World Archery scoring after an end.

The shootdown is a show – this is Vegas, after all – and it has to come to a close. But they do a great job of ratcheting up the tension, and it’s well worth booking a great spot for.

Expectation: I’d have to train and compete on a target face I’d never shot before.
Reality: You don’t have to shoot a three spot target - but you do need your wits about you

I thought everyone would shoot the iconic three-spot, triangular targets across the board, in all divisions – but in fact, three spot targets are only compulsory for championship competitors.

Almost all amateur recurve archers in the flights, and a few compounds, shoot a single 10-zone target face – which is actually printed on the reverse of the sheet of paper. You can just choose which side to show when you pin your (own) target up on the boss.

The switching of faces on the target bosses after 15 arrows does take some getting used to, too.

On the first end after the switch, if you’ve been shooting on the top you have to make sure you’re shooting at the bottom face. There are more mistakes than you think and the judges do a special sweep to check for rogue arrows. 

Expectation: Everyone will only be super-focused on their own shooting.
Reality: Pretty much everyone is incredibly friendly and relaxed

My target-mates on the first two days were some of the most helpful and friendly people I’ve ever shot with, and it made a big difference to my enjoyment of the event. There were moments of stress at the Vegas Shoot from the sheer numbers involved, but I have never met a friendlier large group of people. 

Archers helped out as agents for injured strangers, the organisers were flexible about shooting make up arrows or letting archers delayed by flights shoot later lines. And the Practice With The Pros session, which allows juniors (and only juniors) a chance to shoot with the professionals in the main arena, had a magic all of its own. 

Vegas is very much do-it-yourself in terms of attitude, and there’s a definite sense of a level playing field for all. It shone through the whole event. 

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