The Fourth Annual Vegas in Valdez Archery Tournament took place this past week-end at the Valdez Civic Center. This year’s event set record attendance with 71 archers from around Alaska and over 120 participants and spectators on all three days. This event continues to grow, attracting professional archers to novices and has become one of the largest indoor archery shoots in the state. The Tournament would eventually like to go national and steps are underway to lead the Tournament in that direction.
The Vegas in Valdez Tournament came about four years ago when an idea was hatched by the PWSCC / Valdez Archery Club and the then president of Alaska Archery Association, Judy Vanderwilt, to create an event in Alaska modelling the World Archery Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. The “Vegas Shoot” in Las Vegas is one of the largest archery events in the United States. The allure of shooting in ballrooms on carpet is part of the ambiance and experience that attracts archers to Valdez.
This year included a 2-hour clinic held by professional archer Dave Semmens, several fun shooting events, like Crazy Cards, a Pro-Am shoot, and a long range 300 round. Two retail vendors, Bear Paw Archery and Screamin’ Eagle Archery, both from Wasilla, set up full pro shop services including bow tuning, archery equipment sales, custom arrows, demo equipment and instruction.
Highlights of the shooting were a 599/600 score by Fairbanks archer Andrew Wilson in the Male Freestyle competition, followed by John Bamburg, Palmer, with a 596/600 and Andrew Hegener, Anchorage, with a 589/600. In the Men’s Bowhunter Division Rob Swanson, Anchorage, finished with a very respectable 593/600 41X but was nearly defeated by his nemesis- 18-year-old Justin (Rocket) Befort, Anchorage, who at the last minute borrowed Swanson’s bow and shoot an Ironman Bowhunter 600 round to finish second with 592/600, only one point behind Swanson, nearly beating Swanson with his own bow! John Bamburg was third with 591/600 making this division a very close and exciting match.
In the Women’s Freestyle Division Lauren Seawright, JBER, placed first with 582/600, followed by Nadine Booyse, Anchorage, 577/600 and Judy Vanderwilt, Wasilla, 574/600. Women’s Bowhunter Division saw Jeannie Gerena, Palmer, on top with 506/600, Amber Henderson of Valdez second with 491/600, and third place finisher Margie Lytle, Wasilla, with a score of 478/600.
Male Recurve Freestyle was won by Tim Tasker, Eagle River, 548/600, Dave Semmens, Chugiak, in second with 538/600 and third place finisher Roger Weggle of Fairbanks. The Women’s Recurve Freestyle class was won by Terry Walker of Wasilla who went uncontested with a 376/600 finish.
In the Traditional Division local traditionalist Bob Peca, Valdez, won first place, 325/600 shooting a custom recurve bow built by Idaho bowyer Bob Davis. Thomas Lytle, Wasilla, in second shooting a barebow, 320/600 and Will Felts of Valdez in third with 209/600 shooting a custom longbow.
Archery’s future was also on the Vegas in Valdez range with 14 young archers ages 9-14. These kids showed wonderful discipline and sportsmanship both on and off the range. It is a pleasure to watch the next generation in this sport compete and have fun. Every young person who participates is a winner! Girl’s Youth, Shale Lytle, Wasilla, 376/600. Boy’s Youth Chase McGraw 561/600, Justin Prax, Valdez, 417/600 and Keith Perry 361/600. In the Cub’s Division, Ester Lytle 576/600, Owen Perry 526/600 and Sarah Tasker with 517/600.
Ideas are already underway for next year’s “Vegas in Valdez.” Plans for an Outdoor Show Theater presentation, indoor long range animal round, banquet and a bigger and better archery trade & outdoor show are under discussion.
This event could not happen without the support of Alaska’s archery community, the Valdez Civic Center, Valdez Businesses, and many volunteers. Thanks to Todd Hayes, Ron and Dillon Fowler, Ben Stolen and Bobby Harden for helping with the new target backstops. To Amber and Scott Henderson, Todd Hayes and the PWSCC staff with set-up and clean-up. To Joe Prax for the wonderful photos and to Cindy Shiell for keeping the event organized. Special gratitude is owed to the people & businesses of Valdez for their contributions of items for prizes: Sharry Miller, Scott Fronzuto, Shana Anderson, Wendy Goldstein, Rob Swanson (Anchorage), VCVB, The Prospector, Mike’s Palace, Off the Hook, Solomon Gulch Seafood, Peter Pan Seafoods, A Rogue’s Garden, South Central Hardware, Reynolds Sporting Goods, and PWSCC.