What You Need to Know About the 2018 ASA Tour

With the Archery Shooters Association (ASA) Pro/Am in Foley, Ala., set for Feb. 22-25, the 2018 outdoor 3-D season is official underway.

Funny, it seems like The Vegas Shoot and Lancaster Archery Classic just ended.

But it is time to think about foam. To think about shooting animal targets placed at odd distances in varying light conditions. To think about shooting in nasty weather. To think about strategizing.

Should I go for the 12? Or shoot a safe 10?

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The ASA saw tremendous growth last year, and is poised for even more in 2018, according to association president Mike Tyrell. Across all seven tournaments last year, the ASA events averaged about 1,800 participants, with several tournaments hosting over 2,000.

“It was definitely a big year for us,” Tyrell said of 2017.

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Never heard of the ASA?

It’s an organization based in Georgia that has hosted tens of thousands of professional and amateur archers from all over the U.S., in national and state-level competitions, since 1993.

The ASA has federation chapters in 37 states, with over 9,000 members and 330 clubs. The state-level and national Pro/Am tournaments feature a standardized set of competition rules, professionally set-up ranges, high standards for safety, dress and conduct and some of the largest payouts in competitive 3-D archery.

ASA 3-D archery features competitive rounds shooting at lifelike, three-dimensional, foam animal targets with printed scoring rings. The scoring system consists of 14, 12, 10, 8, 5 or 0 points.

 

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Zero points are awarded for a miss. A hit anywhere on the body, outside all other scoring rings, earns five points. A hit inside the largest scoring vitals ring, but outside smaller ones, equals eight points. A hit inside the 5-inch circle is worth 10 points. A hit inside one of the two smaller, diagonally-placed circles inside the 10-ring is worth 12 points. (The upper ring only scores 12 points if the archer announces he or she intends to shoot at that ring.) The 14-point ring, located in the upper rear area of the 8 ring, is used only as a bonus ring during shoot-offs.

Perhaps the change to the ASA tour this year that could result in the biggest influx of new shooters is the reclassification of Men’s Known 50 and Women’s Known 45 as “semi-pro” classes. (In the “known” classes, the distances from the shooting line to the targets are published by ASA, and archers can use rangefinders to verify those distances. The 50 and 45 designations denote maximum shooting distances of 50 and 45 yards.)

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Rangefinders are legal in ASA’s known-distance divisions.

According to Tyrell, these classes would allow archers who shoot in pro classes at NFAA or World Archery events, or at the Lancaster Archery Classic, to compete in ASA events without having to shoot against the top pros or the bona fide amateurs.

“It gives the spot pros the chance to learn the game – how and where to aim, when to be aggressive, etc. – without being tossed into the deep end of the pool, but also without competing against the pure amateurs, over whom they’d have a decided advantage,” Tyrell said.

Expanding the known-distance classes has been ASA’s key to growth in recent years, according to Tyrell. More archers seem inclined to compete if they don’t have to judge target distance for themselves.

“If you look at our unknown classes, we’d have less than 1,000 archers without the known classes,” he said.

In recent years, ASA has seen many archers, who previously only competed in spot tournaments, turn out at its events to shoot on the known-distance classes. Some of the higher-profile archers to do just that include U.S. Olympian Brady Ellison, two-time Vegas Shoot champ Jesse Broadwater and former World Archery No. 1 compound archer Stephan Hansen of Denmark.

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Stephan Hansen

Tyrell believes the known classes are directly responsible for the participation explosion in ASA’s senior divisions. Those are for archers age 50 and older.

“These are the people who really have the time and the money to travel around to our events, and since we’ve made it so they don’t have to judge distance, they’re coming out to shoot in bigger and bigger numbers,” he said.

Additionally, Tyrell credited S3DA for leading more archers of all ages to ASA. S3DA is a national organization that follows ASA rules, and which helps kids get into 3-D archery competitions.

“So now we have all these kids wanting to come to our events, and their parents are getting into it too, rather than just coming to watch,” he said. “They want to shoot with their kids.”

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Pro archer Christine Harrelson prepares to draw her bow.

Also new for 2018 is the reintroduction of the strutting turkey to the lineup selection, and the return of the Russian boar. Turkeys were historically tricky targets for archers to judge and shoot, and for ASA range officials to maintain. Tyrell said McKenzie has improved the target to include a replacement core, so a single target can be kept in use for a longer period.

The Russian boar was used briefly a few years ago, but was phased out. Now it’s being returned. The standard wild boar, and all other targets used in 2017, will remain in the target lineup.

All of the event sites that hosted ASA tournaments in 2017 will be revisited this year – Foley, Ala., Phenix City, Ala., Paris, Texas, Augusta, Ga., London, Ky., Metropolis, Ill., and Cullman, Ala. Tyrell said significant improvements have been made to the London venue to make it safer and more enjoyable for competitors.

Archers last year complained about the site, after extensive tree cutting and rain-rutted roads made the footing tricky and the courses an eyesore.

“We feel very good we’ve created a more productive environment for everyone to come to,” Tyrell said.

Here’s a link to the 2018 ASA Tour Guide, which has all the locations, rules and information you’ll need to get in on the action this year.

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Lancaster Archery Supply at Georgia ASA event

Lancaster Archery Supply’s video team was at the Archery Shooters Association’s New Breed/Leupold Pro/Am in Appling, Ga., in late April.

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We talked to pro archers to get some tips and insights that might help you with your 3D game. Learn about judging tough targets from Darrin Christenberry; about David Houser’s killer bow setup that helped him set a world record; how Cara Kelly deals with changing light on the 3D course; and what drew world-renowned spot archer Jesse Broadwater into the 3D game this year.

We also talked to some manufacturers to learn more about killer products that are lighting up the 3D world. There’s a hot new stool 3D archers are raving about; some upgrades to a popular hinge release; and a repair kit that will allow you to bring your 3D targets back to life.

You can find all of these videos – and more- on the LAS YouTube channel here.

Levi Morgan, Jesse Broadwater, Kailey Johnston among winners at 2016 Hoyt Pro/Am ASA event

The 2016 3D season kicked off last weekend with the ASA’s Hoyt Pro/Am in Foley, Ala. The course was packed all weekend long, with nearly 2,000 archers registered to compete. In the end, the tops of the pro-class leader boards featured many familiar names.

Levi Morgan – the 2015 ASA Shooter of the Year and IBO World Champion – crushed the Open Pro field with a score of 492, winning the class by 14 points. Tommy Gomez came in second, with Chance Beaubouef trailing him by just two points to take third.

The Open Pro class historically has been considered the pinnacle division at ASA events, but that appears to be changing. While that class featured 53 competitors, the Known 50 division had 112 registered archers – including a few very recognizable spot-target pros.

World-class spot archer Jesse Broadwater took the Known 50 class crown, followed by Michael Braden in second and Michael Fryfogle in third. Longtime Open Pro class competitor, Tim Gillingham, who has been very vocal about his preference for known-distance tournaments, shot in the Known 50 division at Foley. He finished 55th.

The Women’s Pro podium featured three of the best in the 3D game, with Kailey Johnston taking the top spot, followed by Sharon Carpenter in second and 2015 ASA Shooter of the Year Cara Kelly in third. Just four points separated those three women.

In the Senior Pro class, Allen Connor was tops, posting a total score of 484, He was followed in second place by Tony Tazza, and Art Brown took third.

Next up on the ASA circuit is the Easton Southwest Shootout, March 31-April 3, in Paris, Texas. Before that, however, IBO opens its outdoor season with the Winter National, March 11-13, in Park City, Kentucky.

3D Archery Explained

Come Feb. 26 in Foley, Alabama, the archery world unofficially will shift gears from indoors to the outdoor 3D season as the Archery Shooters Association kicks off its 2016 slate of tournaments with the Hoyt Archery Alabama Pro/Am.

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That got us thinking that now would be a good time to give an overview of 3D archery in the modern world.

What is 3D archery? Well it’s a shooting format in which archers walk a target course in the woods, or through fields – or both.

Think of it like a golf course, where the “holes” are three-dimensional, foam targets that look like various game animals – deer, bears, leopards, antelope, etc. So archers move from station to station, where they shoot at these animal targets at various distances, in varying settings. It started as a way for bowhunters to practice on lifelike targets in places similar to where they hunt.

Unlike golf, an archer only takes one shot to hit each target. Every “hole” on a 3D course is a Par 1. Points are earned by arrows hitting various scoring rings on the targets. And a typical 3D round is 40 targets, versus 18 holes.

There are recreational 3D shoots held by archery clubs, individuals and organizations all over the country. They may or may not be competitive events. Some are held strictly for hunting practice.

The two primary organizations dedicated to competitive 3D shooting are the Archery Shooters Association, commonly referred to as ASA, and the International Bowhunting Organization, commonly called IBO. Each holds sanctioned tournaments from late winter through August. While there are some similarities between the two organizations, each has its own competition divisions and scoring system.

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The targets used for 3D tournaments bear scoring rings on the areas of the animal bodies where the vital organs would be. That is, archers try to shoot the targets in the heart-lung areas – just like bowhunters would do on real animals.

For ASA, there will be a large, mostly-circular area framing the vitals zone. Any arrow that lands outside this area is worth 5 points. Inside the large vitals area, there will be a smaller circle, with three even smaller circles inside of it.

One of those smallest of circles will sit dead center inside the next-sized circle, and the two others will be positioned around it. Only IBO uses the dead-center circle, while ASA uses the two circles around it.

For ASA, the two inner circles are worth 12 points, the next-size circle is worth 10 points and any arrow that hits outside the 10 ring, but inside the large vitals ring is worth 8 points.

Sometimes, there will be another 12-ring sized circle in a corner of the 8-point area. Arrows placed in this circle are worth 14 points at tournaments that allow them.

For IBO shoots, the 5, 8, and 10 rings mirror ASA’s. But arrows that hit the small circle in the center of the 10-ring are worth 11 points.

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All an arrow has to do is touch the line of a scoring ring to earn the points awarded by that ring.

Depending on the rules of a particular shoot, the distance to the targets might be marked, or they might not. The two 3D tournament styles are “known distance” and “unknown distance.”

At the unknown distance events, you have to judge for yourself how far away the target is from the shooting stake. Rangefinders are not allowed. Being good at judging yardage is critical, because arrows can hit the target high or low of your aiming spot if you judge the distance incorrectly.

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Arrow speed can cover up some mistakes in range estimation, since the faster an arrow flies, the flatter its trajectory will be. And many of today’s compound bows are capable of producing arrow speeds well over 300 feet per second. However, the ASA has a maximum speed limit of 290 fps for their tournaments. That top speed is lower for some divisions, but no archer may have a bow-arrow setup faster than 290 fps.

IBO has a speed limit of 260 fps for some youth classes, but then no speed limit for other classes, provided archers shoot arrows that weight at least 5 grains per pound of their bow’s draw weight. For example, an archer shooting a bow set at 70 pounds, must shoot an arrow that weighs no less than 350 grains. If an archer shoots an arrow that weighs 5 grains per pound of draw weight, and the arrow speed is less than 290 fps, then that archer can shoot an arrow that weighs less than 5 grains per pound. However, the lighter arrow’s speed cannot exceed 290 fps.

Currently, there is much debate in the archery world over whether professional tournaments should feature known or unknown distances. Some feel the target distances should be marked because judging distance might be more important than archery skill in unknown distance tournaments. Others believe the unknown distance events are superior because they require another skill besides archery prowess in order to win.

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What’s right? That’s up to each archer to decide.

When it comes to archery equipment you’ll see at a 3D tournament, it runs the gamut. There are divisions for archers who shoot different equipment, so you’ll see archers carrying compound bows with long stabilizers and scopes with magnifying lenses; archers with bowhunting setups, featuring short stabilizers and sights with multiple, fixed pins; and archers carrying traditional recurve bows and longbows, among others.

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Because they take place outdoors, there are many variables that can affect archers at a 3D event. You’ve got to deal with all the elements of weather, moving shadows, varying light and uneven terrain. It’s definitely different from indoor, target archery.

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But that’s what makes it so much fun.