YANKTON, S.D. – The dirt was flying as Soldiers of the 842nd Engineer Company, South Dakota Army National Guard, of Spearfish, Sturgis and Belle Fourche, sculpted the landscape of the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) archery ranges in Yankton June 10-18.
The Soldiers of the 842nd used their engineer skills, which are usually reserved for road building, for something a little more unique. They shaped the earth to give it more contour and more character to better suite a field competition archery range that is set to host national and world championship events next summer.
“Our mission down here was to build and modify the existing NFAA ranges,” said Sgt. Corbin Peterson, a team leader with the 842nd from Spearfish. “We constructed a berm that will be used for safety and for elevated shooting positions throughout the archery range lanes.”
The main reason for the unit’s mission in Yankton was to ensure the ranges are set for the NFAA Outdoor National Championships and the International Field Archery Association (IFAA) World Field Championships that will take place on the grounds July 30-Aug. 8 of next year.
“We had planned on making improvements and adding on to our ranges in the years to come,” said Bruce Cull, president of the NFAA. “However, when the Missouri River flooded in 2011, we were forced to start construction ahead of schedule. The flood flattened out a lot of our ranges and damaged a lot of the terrain that the National Guard is helping to recreate.”
The use of National Guard assets in the project benefits both the NFAA and the 842nd. Through the Innovative Readiness Training program, Soldiers are able to train in their mission and skills sets while simultaneously providing services to the public.
“I think the unit took full advantage of the training they were getting out here, said Cull. “They have done everything we have asked and more.”
The 842nd worked on three, field-archery ranges that consist of 28 targets per range. They also leveled an IFAA, the world archery organization, archery field that is 450 feet by 350 feet set for outdoor shooting competitions and training. Additionally, the Soldiers repaired walking paths and roads throughout the 90-acre property.
“We’ve leveled out some of these fields and built up some large berms, which has been a good training opportunity,” said Spc. Colton Kelly from Wall, a heavy equipment operator. “This has been a good mission and I have really enjoyed being out in the field.”
The Soldiers were putting in some long days, but in the evenings during their downtime, the coaches and youth members of the NFAA gave some archery shooting tips to the Soldiers that wanted to take advantage of the 90-meter indoor range.
“We are very thankful for what the Guard has done out here,” said Cull. “They have met all our expectations and then some, and for that we are very great full for the Guard’s help.”