The Vegas Shoot: Behind the Scenes at One of Archery’s Largest Tournaments

The Vegas Shoot is one of the world’s premier annual archery tournaments, and it’s held inside a Las Vegas casino. Archers shoot three days in hopes of bringing home a big paycheck and the title of “Vegas champion.”

This event is often called the Super Bowl of archery tournaments, and features 3,500 archers competing for $403,000 in prizes. One great feature about the Vegas Shoot is that it has divisions for many equipment styles, and you must not be a professional to compete. Further, its format resembles those of local leagues and tournaments nationwide.

The Format

Whether you’re traveling to Las Vegas or competing locally in a Vegas round, the rules are the same. Archers shoot three arrows at a 40-centimeter target 20 yards away, and then score and retrieve them. They release 30 shots per round, and a perfect score is 300.

The Vegas format varies from USA Archery indoor competition. In USA Archery, compound and recurve archers shoot at different size 10 rings. In the Vegas round, both disciplines shoot at the same size 10 ring, which is about the size of a quarter. That isn’t a change for recurve archers, but it’s a big change for compound archers, who usually shoot at a dime-sized 10 ring.

The larger compound 10 ring at Vegas means perfect scores are easier to shoot. In the compound championship division, which features the world’s best archers, many perfect scores forces a heart-pounding shoot-off.

Equipment Setup

The large diameter arrow will catch more lines, and the micro adjust sight gives allows you to dial in on the 10 ring. Be sure to talk with your local shop to determine which will work best for you. Photo Credit: World Archery

The Vegas round is lots of fun. To try it, you just need a bow sighted in at 20 yards. There’s no need to make drastic changes to your bow to have fun shooting in local leagues. The Vegas Shoot and local tournaments have divisions for recurve, barebow and bowhunters.

To optimize your equipment, try shooting a large-diameter arrow and a micro-adjustable sight. Fatter arrows catch more lines, and micro-adjust sights let you dial in on the 10 ring. Talk with your instructor or archery shop about other equipment upgrades that can give you an edge.

Mental Strategy

The Vegas Shoot can have some serious money awarded for the different categories. To make sure you can perform your best, be sure you have a mental game ready for the tournament. Photo Credit: World Archery

Shooting for big money at Vegas requires serious mental fortitude. That’s especially true because the professionals must remain perfect all three days. One person who knows all about that is Alex Wifler, a recurve archer who broke his finger and switched to compound to keep shooting. Five months later he won $50,000 at the Vegas shoot.

Wifler maintained a perfect score over three days, and stayed perfect longer than any other archer in the shoot-off. When trying to shoot a perfect score, the first and last arrows are often the most nerve-wracking.

Wifler said he tries to make those shots just like all the others. “I try put the same emphasis on all my arrows,” he said.

Perfect scores require machine-like consistency in an archer’s form and mental strategy.

“I have my set shot routine, and I run it on every single shot,” Wifler said. “I get to full draw, I put my pin on the center of the target and say, ‘Going through the gold’ until the shot goes off.”

Alex Wifler, previous winner of the Vegas Shoot says, “I have my set shot routine, and I run it on every single shot,” Wifler said. “I get to full draw, I put my pin on the center of the target and I say, ‘Going through the gold’ until the shot goes off.” Photo Credit: USA Archery

That mantra keeps his thoughts focused on the task. Wifler believes increasing his focus improves his game.

“Most people say archery is 90 percent mental, so we should spend a lot more time working on the mental side,” he said.

When trying to shoot a personal best or that magical 300 mark, it’s easy to focus too much on results.

“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” Wifler said. “Average and professional archers have to realize that not every shot is going to be perfect.”

Are you ready to try your first Vegas round? Start by visiting an indoor range near you.

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