Talk about a perfect finish.
As he stood with his friends — and fellow archers from Germany — on Friday afternoon, Joachim Kilchert couldn’t help but beam.
For good reason, he said when asked about his excitement.
He was leaving the sport as a world champion.
“This is actually my last competition,” Kilchert said after his final round of the International Field Archery Association (IFAA) World Bowhunter Championships, at the ranges at Lewis & Clark Recreation Area.
“I’m going to finish my tournament career with this and shoot for fun in the future.”
Kilchert, a long-time archer, will officially be crowned the champion in the three-man Veteran Male Longbow class at today’s (Saturday) awards ceremony — the culmination of the four-day event.
That’s not the most interesting part of his journey to the United States, though, he said.
“We’ve made two dreams come true,” Kilchert said, as he motioned to a friend standing next to him.
They left their home in Germany on Aug. 3 and will return Sunday, he added.
Before arriving in South Dakota, Kilchert and his friend spent five weeks in Canada on what he called a “long-time dream” excursion.
In the Yukon territory, the pair spent time canoeing, camping, sightseeing, photographing nature and wildlife (Kilchert is an avid photographer) and otherwise relaxing.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Kilchert said. “It’s been a perfect six weeks.”
Another member in Friday’s contingent of five German archers shares a similar story.
Gert Kneesch, the champion of the Senior Male Longbow class, has likewise turned his trip to South Dakota in a full-blown vacation.
Once he leaves Yankton, Kneesch and some friends will spend a week and a half visiting locations in western South Dakota and across other western states.
On their itinerary: Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, Needles Highway, Sturgis (Kneesch loves to ride motorcycles, he said) and Yellowstone National Park.
“It would be a dream come true,” Kneesch said, with a smile.
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