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NFAA Easton Yankton
Archery Complex

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Officials Kick Off Olympic Pursuit At First Annual Nugent Camp

Not only did the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) headquarters host more than 200 kids for the first of what is planned as an annual Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids, it was the stage for an announcement that could further grow archery's impact on Yankton.

After a day of being educated about archery, air rifles, trap shooting, fishing, game calling, sling shots and geo-caching, the youngsters aged 8 to 16 were assembled in the Easton Sports Development Foundation Center for Archery Excellence for the kick-off of an effort to get Yankton designated as a Community Olympic Development Program (CODP) by the United States Olympic Committee.

While a handful of political and business leaders were on hand to speak of the announcement's importance, legendary rocker Ted Nugent was the clear star of the proceedings. He delivered a pro-hunting, anti-drug message to the eager kids who had only an hour earlier covered their ears while he led a noisy shooting demonstration. Judging by their cheers and applause, the youngsters were now ready to listen.

The 62-year-old said he had just ended the best musical tour of his life because he had remained clean and sober, while many of his contemporaries - such as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin's John Bonham - had resorted to booze or other drugs, leading to their early demise.

Most of Nugent's freewheeling speech focused on the need to educate youth at home and in school about nature and conserving it.

“If you want to eat, start a fire and kill something,” Nugent said he was taught at an early age. “Do you realize how many Americans don't know that? And they vote - and we have a president to prove it. What the kids are learning here will literally save their lives.”

Due to government policies that limit hunting and trapping, he believes that Americans are being deprived of what is rightfully theirs and the natural world is suffering for it. Governments have resorted to senselessly eradicating animal populations that have grown too abundant because of hunting restrictions, Nugent said.

“These are our grounds. We own the land. We own wildlife. Those are our ‘we the people' resources,” he said. “Like the Indian on the hillside, I cry tears that my sacred wildlife is being abused like that. Because our education system isn't an education system, none of these children would learn that if it wasn't for you parents, if it wasn't for the grandparents, if it wasn't for the families who taught them that a dove is best appreciated on the grill, that the deer is invaluable because it's yummy.

“You have to be the devil to want more gun-free zones where more innocent lives are lost (than in places where guns are allowed),” Nugent continued. “You'd have to be the devil to ban hunting and then take tax dollars to hire people to kill things for you. You have to be, literally, spiritually demented to be against self-defense and resource stewardship.”

Prior to Nugent's speech, more focus was put on what is being called the “NFAA Easton Yankton Olympic Pursuit.”

“What we've seen here today is the culmination of a lot of different partnerships,” said Yankton City Manager Doug Russell.

Greg Easton of the Easton Sports Development Foundation, which has contributed large sums of money to Yankton's archery complex, said the effort is a natural fit for his organization.

“Our focus … is to help develop competitive archery,” he said. “We want to help create that next Olympic gold medalist to come out of the U.S., hopefully - and even out of Yankton, possibly.”

The United States Olympic Committee has partnered with sports groups across the nation to create a handful of CODPs that provide training in fencing, weightlifting, judo and a variety of other activities. None of them offer archery.

“My goal is, in 2016 somebody will be on the Olympic team that has gone through the Yankton training center,” NFAA President Bruce Cull said recently. “The ultimate goal is that someone from … South Dakota will win a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. Is it possible? Anything is possible.”

Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard described the archery complex as a “fantastic” development where thousands will come to learn about and enjoy archery.

He noted the development is much larger than what was originally planned as just an office building for the NFAA national headquarters.

“What we have today instead is not just a 4,500-foot office building but a 25,000-square-foot complex with over 80 acres of field ranges, 3-D ranges, an Olympic range, soccer fields, a fishing pond, a campground - and now the potential of a Community Olympic Development Program. Sometimes, if you dream big, your dreams come true,” Daugaard said.