- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - For the last three years, the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Complex has been one of the sites utilized for hosting the U.S. Collegiate Archery National Indoor Championship. Paul Foss, president of the Mount Marty College Archery Club, and club coach Bill Hewes have been an integral part of its growth.

Foss said the tournament initially didn’t bring much attention to Yankton.

“The first couple of years it was pretty much only Mount Marty and Wayne State shooting here,” Foss said. “Now they’ve gotten (University of Wisconsin) Stevens Point and Mizzou. There’s a lot of bigger schools coming to Mount Marty to shoot because we have the access to this range and it’s just a lot easier to have a lot more shooters. The tournament just goes a lot more smoothly here.”

According to Foss, this year’s Yankton tournament had at least 43 participants signed up from colleges including Mount Marty, University of Missouri, Wayne State College and the University of Wisconsin - Steven’s Point.

Foss said the school’s Yankton facilities have even elicited some envy from other competitors.

“There’s a little bit of jealousy from some schools because they know we have access to a 90-meter indoor range,” he said. “For Mount Marty, it gives us a bit of a competitive edge in the fact that we can train to shoot distance year-round whereas other schools can’t. No matter what, we can come in any day of the week and practice.”

This year, Mount Marty is fielding five archers in the tournament.

As for Hewes, the sport has been more than coaching and competition - it’s been a life-long passion of his.

“It’s my hobby, too,” he said. “It’s not just a job for me.”

Hewes‘ road to Yankton began nearly 26 years ago when he picked up the sport of archery for hunting.

“I got into it recreationally for hunting,” he said. “That was big with the friends I had growing up. Professionally, Easton built a facility in Florida where I started volunteering, going down there with my kids. Then I was asked to come on part-time, and I was trying to get full-time when I was asked to come up (to Yankton in 2011).”

Hewes began coaching the Mount Marty College club team this season after assisting the team the last three years. In addition to his duties as a coach, he also oversees shipping logistics at the Easton Yankton facility, along with maintaining the complex grounds.

Hewes added the transition from his previous job as a sergeant with the Florida Department of Corrections to working with young archers has been a rewarding experience.

“I left a job in law enforcement where I’d work with the worst everybody had to offer, to working with kids offering them something that they can enjoy and a hobby they can have where they’re not getting in trouble all the time,” he said. “This sport teaches them discipline. You have to be safe - you stand on that line until you’re told you can go down and get your arrows. There’s not many of these kids I don’t trust when I’m down range.”

Foss - a junior nursing student at Mounty Marty - said he’s also found archery to be a rewarding experience.

“I went from just being a shooter and coming here doing everything for myself, to volunteering my time helping a lot of kids and helping explain how to shoot and tune their equipment,” he said. “It’s helped me a lot just for what I want to do with my career, and just be able to slow down and help everybody out and just make it more fun for everybody. It’s getting to the point where now it’s not just my success that makes me happy, it’s seeing these kids shoot really high scores in the tournaments.”

Competition in Yankton took place at the beginning of the month.

Other events related to the National Indoor Tournament were conducted in sites across the country including Michigan State University and Texas A&M; University.

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Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, http://www.yankton.net/

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