A brief history of the Vegas Shoot

In 2019, the Vegas Shoot will hit another milestone in entries, breaking 3700 for the first time at its 53rd edition.

The largest indoor archery tournament in the world has doubled in size over the past six years. It’s grown exponentially since it was born more than half-a-century ago.

1962: New beginnings

The National Field Archery Association Championships were held on 16-18 March in the Sahara Hotel. Lou Shine won the women’s event, Matt Yurick the men’s.

Four years later, in 1966, the Sahara-Colt US Open returned to Las Vegas and awarded a USD 10,000 prize purse. It was so popular, the competition was held in 1967, too, with the prize money increasing to $15,000.

1970s: Taking root

A major archery event wasn’t held in Vegas again until 1970 when Jack Lancaster and Bill Mills tied in the lead on a perfect 600 points. Lancaster eventually won the $2000 top prize.

That was also the year the flight system would be introduced. In 1973, organisers experimented with inside-out scoring, the target face was developed and the prize money kept increasing.

Participation grew from 432 archers in 1972 to 700 in 1977 and 800 in 1979.

1980s: Tropicana residency

The Vegas Shoot was a fixture at the Tropicana Hotel and Sport Complex on the strip throughout the 80s, despite entry numbers suffering, and in 1984 the total prize pot broke USD 100,000 for the first time.

In 1985, Katie Smith won the women’s unlimited division for the sixth year in a row and Terry Ragsdale won his fourth championship with the first-ever 900-point Vegas round.

1990s: Format changes

It was in 1991 that the now iconic Vegas shootdowns were introduced. The format pitted the archers with a perfect score at the end of the round against each other in sudden death competition to decide the winner.

Then, in 1993, the official three-spot Vegas target was used and the targets set at 20 yards.

2000s: NFAA management

At the 1999 event, it was announced that the National Field Archery Association would take ownership of the Vegas Shoot beginning in 2000.

The new NFAA World Archery Festival moved to the Riviera Hotel in 2001, attracted 1200 archers and awarded USD 10,000 to the men’s champion.

Entries stayed around the mid-1000 for the decade as the now-famous Vegas shootdowns cemented their place in archery lore. Championship rings were introduced in 2009, along with electronic scoring and extra practice space.

2010s: Expansion

The Riviera last hosted the Vegas Shoot in 2011, when it was also a stage of the inaugural Indoor Archery World Cup.

It re-emerged one year later, in 2012, at the South Point Hotel and Casino – where the World Archery Indoor Championships were also held that year.

In 2014, the event saw 2000 archers register for the first time. That same year, Dutchman Mike Schloesser became the first shooter from outside of North America to win the main event, beating out 10 other men in the shootdown.

The championship compound open division – open to both men and women – was introduced in 2016 and Sergio Pagni became the first lucky dog to win the shoot, taking home USD 50,000 at the event’s 50th edition.

The future

The Vegas Shoot is arguably the most popular fixture on the international archery calendar. It’s grown to include categories for almost every conceivable competition bowstyle, the Indoor Archery World Series Final, and special events for school kids, initiatives like Break the Barriers and a comprehensive seminar schedule.

It’ll attract 3700 archers for the first time in 2019, from all 50 US states and 51 countries, and that growth looks set to continue.

Read more about the history of the Vegas Shoot, the archery in the Vegas 900 club or more about the 2019 edition on the official event website.