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Yankton Archers Shine In IFAA Championships

BY EMILY NIEBRUGGE (NOTE: This story was originally published by the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan)

Whether they used a historic bow or a high-tech compound bow, archers from around the world were able to take part in the international archery competition this weekend. Several Yankton natives took advantage of the opportunity to compete and interact with international archers.

Kendra Hunhoff and Elliot Cull, both members of the Yankton Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) team, took part in the International Field Archery Association (IFAA) World Indoor Archery Championships at the Easton Yankton Archery Complex.

Hunhoff, who is 14 years old and has been involved with archery for about a year and a half, placed first in her division with 837 points on the weekend.

Hunhoff said she was happy to finish first over the weekend, which was her goal going into the competition.

“I was really glad to achieve that goal,” she said. “I had to spend a lot of time preparing for this tournament. I practice at least two to three hours five days a week.”

Cull, 16 years old, placed fourth in his division and scored his highest score yet, with 886 points.

“At first I was a little nervous for the competition, but I got used to it,” he said. “It felt really good. I wasn’t too down about getting fourth because I got my highest score.”

But the greatest part of the competition was meeting archers from all over the world, Cull said.

“It was cool to see how everyone else lived and how they act differently,” he said. “It was really neat seeing how we have something in common even though we’re so far away. It was also really cool to see their skill level.”

Eric Tollefson, head coach at the archery facility, said he enjoyed bringing people in from across the world. Although the economy did seem to take a toll on some of the archers traveling from Europe, Tollefson said he still saw a good turnout.

“To see the camaraderie among the teams from different nations was fabulous,” he said. “Archery is such an interesting sport in that everybody helps everybody. Even if they’re a competitor and they don’t speak the same language, if somebody has an issue, they’re going to get help at a tournament like this.

“I don’t know of any other sports or any situations where you could have brought in this kind of a field for competition. There are a lot of things that happen in town, but to bring an international level competition here was fantastic.”

Bringing those competitors to Yankton was something Hunhoff also said she enjoyed seeing.

“It’s really great seeing people from different countries in the small town of Yankton,” she said. “We really connected with everyone from all over and it was just great meeting people from different countries.

“We all like archery and that’s what we had in common. It was a lot of fun.”

Tollefson said what made this tournament unusual was the range of equipment used by the competitors.

“We had everything from historic bows, which in many cases are not much more than a stick with a string, to the most high-tech compound bows — the most modern bows,” he said. “It didn’t make any difference — the camaraderie among the archers was fabulous. They’re able to talk the same language. Bows are bows, arrows are arrows no matter what the language is. We all come together and we have a common ground with the sport.”

The group who competed this weekend will be back in a year and a half for the international field championship, Tollefson said, but the Yankton facility will now transition from indoor to outdoor competitions.

“Right now our season slows down a little bit,” he said. “There are a lot of tournaments that some of our young archers will be traveling to over the course of the next few months, but right now we’re still in the planning phase for some of the things that will be happening here at the facility.”

Twelve competitors scored perfect scores of 900, seven shoot-offs occurred, and 31 world records were broken during the competition. Jonathan Steinmann, from South Africa, Mark Franklin (United States), Fabio Tassinari (Brazil), Gabby Keiser (United States), Kelly Vallun (South Africa), Michael Springer (United States), Conor Franklin (United States), Kobus Brink (South Africa), Hugo Barrientos (United States), Edward Christman (United States) and Ron Nankivel each scored 900 total points over the weekend.