Tom Dielen has seen his share of venues that have hosted international archery tournaments.
Of course, that’s his job — as Secretary General of the World Archery Federation — to criss-cross the globe to help oversee events.
What he’s seen in Yankton, though, rises above all of those other event locations.
That’s what Dielen shared with the crowd during Wednesday evening’s opening ceremony for the World Archery Indoor Championships, which begins today (Thursday) at the Easton Yankton Archery Center.
He took the chance to rave about Yankton’s complex, which he called the “biggest in the world” — thanks to a new 24,000 square foot addition completed last month.
The 2018 installment of the Indoor Championships are the 14th in the event’s history, and Yankton marks only the second time (Las Vegas in 2012) that it’s been hosted in the United States.
“The first thing you need is a facility, and we’ve usually held these in a big hall or a multipurpose arena,” Dielen said after the opening ceremony.
“But this is the first time we’ve done this in a hall built for archery.”
Yankton was awarded the Indoor Championships three years ago after receiving rave reviews for hosting the 2015 World Archery Youth Championships.
That event, though, was an outdoor tournament. If Yankton was going to eventually land a prestigious indoor tournament of this caliber, more space would be needed in the Easton Center, according to Bruce Cull.
“This was one of the reasons why I pushed for this new addition,” said Cull, president of the National Field Archery Association (NFAA).
The additional space, attached to the main building, effectively doubled the space of the Easton Center, Cull added.
“We’re super fortunate in Yankton to have something like this,” he said. “We badly needed a facility with this kind of space for so many different events.”
And for more than just archery, Cull said.
“This opens the door for a lot of things,” he said after the opening ceremony, as he looked across at the entrance to the new addition.
But in terms of archery, Yankton’s successful bid for the Indoor Championships hinged on the support of the local organizing committee, Dielen said.
“You need a host group that truly believes in doing this the right way,” he said.
Many members of the local organizing committee were in Las Vegas through Monday for the Vegas Shoot, a prestigious tournament hosted by the NFAA.
“The fact that they just had the biggest Vegas Shoot they’ve ever had and then rushed back for this shows that they’re capable,” Dielen said.
A total of 31 countries and over 208 archers will begin qualification rounds today (Thursday) at 9 a.m. They qualify into brackets, with the finals in individual and team matches set for Saturday and Sunday.
Among those archers is Kristofer Schaff, a member of the United States team. He captured a gold medal in his division last weekend at the Vegas Shoot and said Wednesday that he wants to continue that momentum in Yankton.
“After Vegas, I’m hoping to keep that going here,” Schaff said. “I have a lot of confidence right now.”
The Easton Yankton Archery Center, he added, would rank at the top of the list of venues he’s visited.
“It’s nice,” Schaff said. “It’s probably the nicest facility I’ve shot in, to be honest.”
Although the number of countries is fewer than the 34 that participated in the 2016 Indoor Championships in Turkey, the caliber of archer is still high in Yankton, Dielen said.
“We’d obviously love to have more countries here, but we still look forward to some very high quality competition,” he said.
Follow @jhoeck on Twitter