The breeze was just enough to give life to the limbs on the pinyon pines and juniper trees. With the temperature hovering in the mid-60s, walking down the dirt road that leads into the Las Vegas Archers’ home range was a pleasant reminder of what makes the mountains so inviting. Even in the Mojave Desert.
From somewhere in the trees came the murmur of quiet voices and then the unmistakable sound of an arrow hitting a target bail. Thwack!
I was in the right place.
The Nevada Bow Hunters Association was holding its 2022 NFAA State Outdoor Championships over the weekend and I wanted a closer look at both the range and the competition. NFAA is the acronym for National Field Archery Association, of which the NBHA is a state chapter.
The two-day tournament is really three shoots in one. It includes Field, Hunter and Animal Rounds. All utilize paper target faces, though the configuration is different for each round. As you might imagine, the target face for the animal round uses images of huntable species.
On day one, competing archers shoot four arrows at each of 28 targets during the Field Round and a maximum of 42 arrows at 14 targets during the Animal Round. On day two, they shoot another 112 arrows at 28 targets during the Hunter Round. In all each archer could shoot as many as 266 competition arrows over the two-day event.
Luckily, I found a couple of archers with whom I was already familiar – David Catalano and Pat Lattimer, both of Reno. They were teamed up with Ashley McDermaid, also of Reno, and John Thayer of Las Vegas. Catalano, Lattimer and Thayer are all members of the NBHA board of directors. The latter for 26 years.
The group was gracious enough to let me follow them around and ask questions as they shot their way through the Field Round. Participants shoot in different classes depending on such things as whether they shoot a compound bow or a longbow, how they configure their bow or their age.
For archers looking to prepare for an upcoming big game hunt, participation in tournaments such as the Outdoor Championships and others put on by the NBHA are a good method of honing your skills. Primarily because the targets are not all located on flat ground with a smooth place to stand. Though the distances are known, the targets are placed in a variety of settings that require the archers to adjust their shot on the fly and tests their ability to make the shot in a variety of situations.
Some shots are close, and others are far. Some offer a flat shot and others require the archer to shoot uphill or downhill.
Though my four tour guides were engaged in a competition that earned them points toward a state championship, I was surprised at the encouragement and assistance they provided each other. During our time together, no one in the group was critical of another. All coaching was positive, and I observed the same behavior among other groups.
One of the good things about being involved with the NBHA shoots is that archers get to practice their craft at ranges around the state. That means learning to shoot in a variety of settings. Speaking of the NBHA, Thayer said, “It’s all volunteer. We’re a non-profit organization, and we’re just out to have fun and promote archery.”
Membership in the Las Vegas Archers comes with access to the group’s range in Mountain Springs off of Highway 160. The facility includes two 28-target courses, one 20-animal 3D target course and one broadhead sight-in area. While the range is open to members year-round, the range is open to the public only during organized shoots. You can find membership options and requirements at the LVA website (http://www.lasvegasarchers.net/.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. Find him on Facebook at @dougwritesoutdoors. He can be reached at [email protected]