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NFAA Easton Yankton
Archery Complex

800 Archery Lane
Yankton, SD 57078
605-260-9282
info@neyac.org

Hours

Weekdays: 9am - 9pm
Saturday: 10am - 7pm
Sunday: 12pm - 7pm

Aiming for Bigger Things

When news came last week that the National Field Archery Association was coming to Yankton, many residents may have wondered what all the fuss was about.

After all, while the non-profit corporation has 19,000 members, it isn't bringing hundreds of jobs to the area.

The four or so jobs it will bring to Yankton won't be accompanied by unbelievably high salaries.

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And it isn't going to occupy currently empty space along Broadway or in Yankton's downtown.

Bruce Cull, president of the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) and co-owner of Yankton's Dakota Archery & Outdoor Sports, understands the skepticism.

"From a Yankton standpoint, I don't think the headquarters building and the number of employees means that much," he said.

But that's only part of the story, Cull points out.

What may be overlooked is the millions of dollars in visitor spending generated by NFAA tournaments, which have been held in Yankton for the past three years and are already scheduled to occur here for the next two years.

"There's a lot of bucks being spent here that weren't here before," Cull said. "We've got a proven track record here. We're not talking $10, we're talking in the millions."

In 2008, Yankton has secured a bid to host the NFAA Outdoor National Field Championship and the National Unmarked 3-D Championship - events that were held here in 2005 and 2006. In 2009, the city will be home to the International Field Archery Association World 3-D Championship, which will likely attract anywhere from 500-1,000 participants from around the world.

The Yankton Office of Economic Development estimates those events will generate more than $4 million in visitor spending during the course of the next two years as participants stay in Yankton's hotels, eat in its restaurants and shop in its stores.

While the national headquarters doesn't necessarily mean tournaments will be held in Yankton every year, it does put the city in a good position to bid on the events - a process that is required by the NFAA's constitution.

As part of its agreement with the NFAA, the city will maintain two permanent 28-target outdoor archery ranges, giving it a valuable edge over many other communities attempting to bid on the tournaments, Cull said.

Less certain, but no less exciting, is the chance that the headquarters will put Yankton on the map for archery manufacturing companies, according to Cull.

Leading officials from Easton Sports and other major archery manufacturing companies have visited Yankton since it began hosting tournaments in 2005, he pointed out. He believes the chance of one of them deciding to put an operation in the city is realistic. It's got enough potential that the Governor's Office of Economic Development is already working to attract archery-related companies to the state in much the same way it has recruited firearms operations to the Black Hills area, Cull explained.

"The one thing I won't do is take 'no' for an answer," Cull said of his own lobbying efforts to bring a manufacturing company to Yankton. "I'll pursue something as long as I can. It's not like I'm a little kid who wants his own way, and yet I kind of am. When I have a vision for something, I think there's potential.

"I'm not going to say something is going to happen tomorrow, but the word is already out there," he continued. "What it really comes down to, I think, is that Yankton has charm and hospitality. I think that's our ace in the hole right there. I think the secondary thing is the financial things South Dakota can offer."

It's Yankton's character that attracted the NFAA's national headquarters to the city in the first place, Cull said.

"Back in 2005 when we had the tournament here, I don't think people in our organization ever realized exactly what South Dakota was," he said. "When they got here, they were awe-struck. They saw the beautiful lake, the river, the rolling hills. They were treated like royalty in a city that was more conducive to their lifestyles than bigger cities they've been in.

"I then heard several people say - however off the cuff it was - 'Hey, why don't we just have the headquarters here, have a permanent range and hold the nationals here all the time?'" Cull recalled.

From there, fate intervened in Yankton's favor.

Earlier this year, an unsolicited buyer offered the NFAA a deal on its Redland, Calif., property that the organization's executive board could not refuse - even though it had been based in California since its 1939 inception.

While there was interest in putting the headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.; Winterset, Iowa; and a couple of Illinois communities, none of them were able to offer what Yankton-area officials put on the table, Cull said.

The Yankton City Commission agreed to provide $100,000 that will go toward the purchase of land south of the Best Western Kelly Inn along Bramble Road. Additionally, the city will forgive $5,600 in special assessments against the property, as well as maintain a pair of 28-target archery ranges on the site that would be made available to the public. Yankton County will provide seven of the 39 total acres being sought for the development.

In return, the NFAA will build a 5,000-square-foot or larger office building. It must operate in Yankton for at least five years, employ four full-time equivalent workers within three years at average or above-average wages and work in good faith to hold some of its regional, national or international tournaments in Yankton.

"(The NFAA Executive Board) saw a city, county and state that were very archery-friendly. We were wanted," Cull said. "That's a big thing. We took a vote, and it was unanimous to move the headquarters here."

For Cull, the real work is now beginning.

The NFAA has to vacate its California home by March, which means the timeline to complete construction of the new Yankton headquarters is short. Cull said the organization is scrambling to finalize its plans, and he hopes ground will be broken on the facility in the next 30-45 days.

As part of the development, the NFAA is planning to build an archery museum. The scale of the structure has not been decided yet, Cull said. It may require some additional NFAA fundraising, and could possibly be completed in phases after the main headquarters facility is done, he said.

"We've got crates of archery artifacts - bows, arrows, paintings - that have basically been in storage because all we have is an office building," Cull said. "We've got some really neat stuff that would be worthy of having a museum."

Cull said he hopes the Yankton community continues to support the NFAA and its events as it has done in the past.

"These people have never felt so welcome as they have here. It's as good as it gets," he said. "I think it's really neat that (Yankton and Yankton County) had the vision and the foresight to take something that I love, and have a little vision for, and blend it to make it a part of the community. I could have never done it myself. It would have been impossible."