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NFAA Easton Yankton
Archery Complex

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Yankton, SD 57078


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New Archery Coach Tollefson Calls Position An 'Adventure'

Some couples go camping. Some decide to paint their house. Others may adopt a dog.

For Eric Tollefson, no, his idea of an “adventure” was packing up his life and moving halfway across the country.

As he looks back on his journey from California to Yankton, the newly-hired Elite Coach at the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) Easton Archery Complex says his new position is exactly what he wanted.

“My wife and I decided this was an adventure worth going for,” Tollefson said during an interview Tuesday, his second day on the job. “Our kids are both grown, so why not take on a new challenge in our lives?

“Getting to go to work every day and work with archers? That's just the icing on the cake.”

Tollefson, an Illinois native and previous resident of Lake View Terrace (a suburb of greater Los Angeles), Calif., is one of fewer than 100 Level 4 coaches in the United States.

His rise through the archery coaching ranks has been relatively fast - he became a Level 2 instructor in 2003 and was certified as a Level 3 coach in 2006.

“I've been able to coach some good, young archers, from all over the country,” he said. “Plus, spending any time with one of the best coaches in the world can't be a bad thing.”

In March 2011, while working with U.S. National Head Coach Kisik Lee, Tollefson worked himself to the Level 4 ranks. The past 15 months have been spent coaching alongside Lee and learning the techniques he will use in Yankton.

“What I bring are the latest coaching styles, those kinds of things the guys like Kisik Lee are teaching young kids,” Tollefson said.

Those styles will center around the widely-used B.E.S.T. Method (Biomechanically Efficient Shooting Technique), a style Tollefson said shows archers ways to avoid injury.

“There are so many common injuries when you're talking about archery,” he said, referring to tendinitis and rotator cuff strains. “You're doing the same motion over and over, so we want to teach people ways to prevent those.”

As Elite Coach, Tollefson will assist in scheduling and managing all coaching clinics, seminars and instructor certification events. He will also help coordinate all local, state, national and international archery events at the complex - of which there have been many since the NFAA headquarters were moved to Yankton in 2008.

Among his duties, Tollefson will also coach the Mount Marty College club team, and will help with the University of South Dakota which has expressed interest in adding the club sport, he said.

With 30 years in the jewelry business under his belt, Tollefson is faced with another “gem.”

The new 29,500-square-foot addition to the Easton Archery Complex not only includes equipment and office space, but houses the world's first - and only - 70-meter indoor range.

Tollefson said he expects the NFAA to continue to draw in big tournaments like it has in the past, such as the Unmarked 3-D Championship which comes to Yankton on July 7-8.

“A lot of what you see around Yankton is based on hunting, with compounds (bows),” he said. “We're just trying to show people a different style. You don't see a lot of Olympic style recurves around here, and that's what the best archers in the world use.”

Whether it's working with adults, or college-aged archers or even children, Tollefson said he plans to use a philosophy he related to karate or taekwondo.

“Ultimately for me, it's still a martial art,” he said. “It's all about focus and discipline, and you can get kids involved with a team aspect, too. It's up to you to put in the work to make yourself better.”

Though, at the end of the day, Tollefson said the sport of archery advances - especially within the younger ranks - by word of mouth.

Recently-released movies like The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Brave, and Snow White and the Huntsman all prominently feature archery, so naturally the sport is front and center.

“All these movies are exposing kids to the sport,” Tollefson said. “Once they pick it up, they tend to stay with it. That's the great thing about it, it can be a life-long sport.”

Archery aside, the significant change in his life will take some getting used to, Tollefson admits.

“South Dakota's a little different for me,” he said, grinning, as he looked outside. “I was watching the (Los Angeles) Kings in the (NHL) Stanley Cup, and I realized you could put the entire city of Yankton in that arena, and still have space left over.

“I had to stop and think about that; it's hard to imagine.”

Though, his first visit to Yankton gave a glimpse into the environment he was headed for.

“We were coming back from breakfast after my interview out here, and we saw a young kid on a bike. He waved at us,” Tollefson said. “That's so different from where I come from. You could tell there's a sense of community here; that there's a get-to-know-you feel.”

Tollefson's wife, Odalis or “Odie,” is in the process of moving from California to Yankton, though he joked that the change will be more drastic for her.

“She's of Cuban heritage, so she's only lived in Havana, Miami and Los Angeles in her life,” he said. “She's never seen winter. I'll have to explain to her what that white stuff is falling from the sky.”