2018 Lancaster Archery Classic sees record turnout; crowns new champions

The 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic Jan. 26-28 at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pa., was bigger and better than ever. With 1,488 competing archers and tens of thousands of people following the Classic broadcast all over the world, the 15th version of the competition was far reaching.


The number of registered competitors shattered the 2017 attendance record of 1,093, demonstrating the drawing power of the largest indoor archery tournament on the East Coast.

“This is the best indoor venue in the world,” said 2018 and 2017 Men’s Recurve champion Brady Ellison. “Between the lighting and the stages and how close the crowd is – it doesn’t get any better.”


The biggest payout of the event went to Paul Tedford, who took home the top prize of $15,000, plus thousands more in contingency money, in the Men’s Open Pro Division. Other notable winners were Women’s Open Pro Champ Sarah Prieels, Women’s Recurve champ Mackenzie Brown and Masters Open Pro champ Benton Christensen.

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Men’s Open Pro winners, from left, Chance Beaubouef, Paul Tedford and Sam Wolthius.

But there’s no question the two main storylines of this year’s tournament were the participation of 235 young archers, who competed in the first-ever Victory Youth Trophy Tournament, and the growth of the barebow division.


The Victory Youth Trophy Tournament was a special “tournament within the tournament,” which allowed young archers under 21 to experience a world-class archery competition for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the time commitment.

Competing in the full Classic can be taxing on young people and their parents, since it can require archers to spend two or three days at the event, between registering, practicing, qualifying and competing in eliminations and finals matches. And it can be fairly expensive when you factor in travel, lodging and entry costs.


The Victory Youth Trophy Tournament featured a lower entry fee, and the competition was limited to one day. That format drew 235 young archers divided among 12 divisions based on age and shooting equipment – compound, recurve and barebow.

Those young archers got to compete on the same range as the top archers in the world, and they got to meet and shoot with those archers as well. The value of that experience cannot be measured if they intend to continue with competitive archery, because there is no way to recreate the pressure and nervousness that naturally comes with shooting in the Classic.


The world barebow community took it upon themselves over the past year to make the 2018 Lancaster Archery Classic a premier competition for their discipline. In the weeks preceding the tournament, many barebow archers circulated a logo one of them created calling this event the “Lancaster Archery Barebow Classic.”

Last year’s barebow field had 51 archers. This year, that number exploded to 125. And the growth in interest was not only among competing barebow archers. The video of the 2017 Lancaster Archery Classic barebow finals in one year has become Lancaster Archery Supply’s most-watched YouTube video since the company created its channel in 2010.

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Rich Barker takes aim in barebow competition.

Lancaster Archery Supply took notice of the increased interest among the barebow competitors and the viewing public. The company increased its payouts and created special trophies for the top barebow finishers, including awarding a trophy to the top-finishing female barebow archer – Fawn Girard. The company hopes to one day soon have two barebow divisions – one for men and another for women.

With all that support and hype behind it, the 2018 barebow finals did not disappoint. Before a standing-room-only crowd Jan. 27, Rich Barker, who had never before qualified for the Classic finals, entered the finals seeded last among the four qualifiers.

Thanks to the Classic format, Barker had the opportunity to work his way up through the field to compete for the title. Under Classic competition, division finalists are ranked, and then the competition begins with two lowest seeds shooting head to head against one another. The winner of that match advances to shoot against the next ranked archer, and so on until the top seed shoots for the title against whoever is left.


John Demmer

Barker shot his way from the bottom up. He first defeated veteran competitor Bobby Worthington 100-98, before toppling the equally experienced Dewayne Martin, 106-97. That victory earned Barker the right to shoot for the championship against one of the world’s best barebow archers, John Demmer, who was the 2017 Classic defending champion.

Though he was on his first finals stage, competing against a man he says he has looked up to for years, Barker was fearless. He took an early lead over Demmer and he never gave it up. In the last end, Barker shot an 11, followed by an arrow that glanced off his first and landed in the 8 ring, and then he finished with another 11. That’s incredible shooting for an archer slinging arrows from a recurve bow, at a target 18 meters away, with no aiming sight.

Those three arrows gave Barker the win over Demmer, and the crowd erupted into a standing ovation.

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Rich Barker waves to the crowd after winning barebow.

“I didn’t shoot too well in qualifying, but I guess I got on a hot streak at the right time,” Barker said.

In typical barebow archery fashion, Demmer took the loss in stride.

“Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug,” he said. “Today, I was the bug.”


The rest of the Classic featured some surprises and some expected results. The USA’s two top Olympic recurve archers – Mackenzie Brown and Brady Ellison – each repeated as champions of the Women’s and Men’s Recurve Divisions, respectively.

New champions were crowned in, among others, the Men’s Open Division – Brad Baker Jr. – Youth Male Recurve – Alex Gilliam – Youth Female Open – Gracie Detamore- and Bowhunter – 20-year-old Zach Prugh. Thanks to a generous contingency from Bowhunting.com, plus the $1,250 paid out by Lancaster Archery, Prugh took home $2,000, which is the most a Bowhunting Division champ has ever won at the Classic.


Zach Prugh


The Men’s Open Pro shoot-up featured some tight competition, and included one of the most shocking events of the tournament. Chance Beaubouef, who was seeded second, opened his match against Paul Tedford with two perfect arrows, before his third arrow prematurely flew off his bow as he was drawing it back. The arrow sailed over the target backstop and stuck into the venue wall. A collective gasp of shock rippled through the crowd as Beaubouef stood on his platform and shook his lowered head. Even with flawless shooting from there against Tedford – Beaubouef otherwise never dropped out of the 11 – he couldn’t recover.

“My heart’s in my stomach right now,” said pro archer Nathan Brooks, who was providing commentary on the match alongside Lancaster Archery Supply president Rob Kaufhold.

“Nobody likes to see that happen to any archer in a competition like this,” Kaufhold added.

Here are the top-three finishers in each of the 15 Classic divisions:

Men’s Open Pro – Paul Tedford, Sam Wolthuis, Chance Beaubouef

Women’s Open Pro – Sarah Prieels, Tanja Jensen, Jillian Ballengee


Sarah Prieels

Masters Open Pro – Benton Christensen, Scott Starnes, Kent Stigall

Men’s Open – Brad Baker Jr., Junior Sizemore

Women’s Open – Katie Roth, Ashley Ensley, Jamilee Moore

Masters Open – Wayne Johnson, Daniel Deterline, Bryan Caton

Senior Open – Dee Wilde, Glenn Talley, Benny Parenteau

Youth Male Open – Derek Ballengee, Ethan Merrill, Tyler Heritage

Youth Female Open – Gracie Detamore, Megan Rivera Ena Walker

Bowhunter – Zachary Prugh, Perry Hapring, Charles Hunnell

Men’s Recurve – Brady Ellison, Crispin Duenas, Richard Butch Johnson

Women’s Recurve – Mackenzie Brown, Casey Kaufhold, Crystal Gauvin


Mackenzie Brown shoots as Casey Kaufhold loads an arrow.

Youth Male Recurve – Alex Gillam, Dallas Jones, Benjamin Hur

Youth Female Recurve – Alyssa Artz, Katherine Wu, Brianna Laux

Barebow – Rickard Barker, John Demmer III, Dewayne Martin

For a complete listing of winners of the Victory Youth Trophy Tournament, click here.

Lancaster Archery Supply thanks its 2018 Classic sponsors: TRU Ball/Axcel, Hoyt, Dead Center, Carbon Express, Victory Archery, Mathews, Black Eagle, Carter, Bloodsport, Doinker, BCY, Scott, CBE, Easton, Shrewd, SKB, Shibuya, Gold Tip, B-Stinger, Vortex Optics, American Whitetail, Top Hat, Stan, Win&Win, Cartel, Prime, Elite, Leupold, PSE, Gateway, Last Chance, Limbsaver, Neet, Beiter, Big Shot Targets, Speciality Archery, Bowtech, Yeti, Rogue Bowstrings, Gas Bowstrings, No Limit Archery, Competition Archery, Zbros Archery, Brownell and Gillo.

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