Last weekend’s 2021 NFAA Indoor National Championship in Yankton was about more than just aiming at targets. For many, it represented a return to normalcy amid hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down.

National events are usually held in some of the larger cities, said Kasi Haberman, communications manager for Yankton’s NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center (NEYAC). “The usual, larger venues weren’t able to host it because of COVID, so we decided to try for it and have it for folks that were interested in coming.”

The national event typically draws about 1,800 people. This year’s event in Yankton drew over 700 people from 47 states and four countries, she said.

“We’re very fortunate to have this tournament, as well as the Rushmore Rumble we had last month and the national track meet hosted at Mount Marty University,” Haberman said. “This time of year, hotel occupancy is typically lower and the restaurants are slower, so we send people out to the restaurants and give various recommendations. We hope the local business community is able to take advantage of these opportunities.”

A few of the vendors and participants took a moment to speak to the Press & Dakotan about their participation in the event.

NOT CONCEDING

TO THE PANDEMIC

“I was completely shut down because nobody really needed catering, and I do catering for the private schools’ lunches,” Michelle Donner, owner of Counterfeit Catering that was providing concessions for archery event, told the Press & Dakotan. “The schools closed; every event I had closed. It was a rolling closure until recently. I just recently started getting calls again about personal catering.”

Fortunately, in December, Donner said she had decided to expand her business to offering refrigerated vending machines stocked with food and beverages for work environments. Getting the machines installed at the workplaces was challenging, but ultimately succeeded because employers preferred to avoid the risks involved with sending employees out for lunch every day, she said.

The vending machines sustained her business until school began in the fall and until business slowly starting picking up again, she said. Large events, like the archery competition, are a sign of that continuous improvement.

“Today, there are a lot of events happening,” Donner said. “It’s a good time to start visiting with people.”

A LEARNING EXPERIENCE

Even new businesses took advantage of the national tournament.

“Bruce Cull (NEYAC director) gave us a call and asked us if we’d be interested in serving our coffees, “ said Marissa Terca, manager of the Muddy Mo’ Coffee House coming to Yankton’s downtown on May 1.

Terca’s aim for the event was to learn how people prefer their coffee, so she and her staff can provide that at the new coffee house, she said.

“We have been making it to order,” Terca said. “We’ve been doing test samples to find out exactly what people like and then taking their feedback and tweaking it.”

After three days, the team was getting the hang of it, she said.

JUST GLAD TO BE HERE

Paige Pearce, a professional archer who placed fourth in her division, said that many of the participants were just happy to be able to compete.

“With everything that happened with COVID, a lot of our events have been canceled,” she said. “The only two indoor events that we have been able to compete in this year were both here in Yankton. It’s kind of been a big deal for everybody to come and meet up here again, see some familiar faces and get that competitive feel — getting back on the line.”

Pearce said that just walking around gave her a sense of how happy everyone at the archery center was just to be there.

“The Yankton community has always been really involved and very welcoming,” said Pearce, who has been coming to the archery center since she was 10 years old. “One thing that really means a lot to the archers is the support from the community. This place feels like a second home. It’s nice to come into a town where we feel welcome.”

Maggie Perry, 11, of Huron, and the new national champion of the Cub (age 11 and under) Limited Freestyle Recurve category, said Yankton is like a second home to her, too.

“We come here because it’s the biggest archery association,” said Perry, who has been participating in archery for four years. “I like to go to these different places, shoot for different events and go against different people. I like meeting people.”

Over the weekend, she said she had met participants from four countries, many her age.

The Yankton community is like an archery mecca, Darrin Christenberry, pro staff coordinator for The Outdoor Group, told the Press & Dakotan.

A lifelong archer, Christenberry said the NEYAC facility is an amazing place.

“When we first started coming to Yankton, people were like, ‘It’s out in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing there,’” he said. “This is my fourth time here and I really like this city. The people are awesome; the food’s great and there’s a lot of things to do here. That’s nice to see.”

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