Arrows fly during the annual OAA Indoor State Championship

Arrows fly during the annual OAA Indoor State Championship
Dave Mast

A record number of archers joined the action at Harvest Ridge in Millersburg on Saturday, March 11 to participate in the Ohio Archers Association Indoor State Championship.


For any bow hunter, there is that moment of recognizing a target, of steadying the nerves, slowing the heart rate and going through a series of steps they’ve practiced countless times before the act of drawing back the bow string and releasing the arrow.

On Saturday, March 11 at the Fairgrounds at Harvest Ridge in Millersburg, the expo center was a beehive of activity where bow enthusiasts both amateur and professional united for a tournament exhibition that packed the expo center with participants and fans.

The Ohio Archers Association hosted its annual Indoor State Championship, and OAA President Barry Burnett and the rest of the administrative crew at OAA were basking in the aura of the event as they watched the archers compete for the gold, silver and bronze.

Burnett said the championship was formerly held at Ashland High School, but it eventually outgrew the facility, and they had to turn it into a two-day event. In hopes of bringing it back to a one-day event, they set forth locating a venue large enough to host the type of numbers the OAA state tournament brings in.

They landed at Harvest Ridge.

“Someone informed me that there was a really nice place in Holmes County, so I came to take a look at it,” Burnett said. “We saw the facility and knew it was exactly what we wanted, so we started talking to Pat Martin (Harvest Ridge director), and we put together a five-year lease. We’re excited to call this home, and we have been treated incredibly well.”

OAA is the oldest member of the National Field Archery Association in the nation, established in 1889, and Burnett said this is the largest indoor tournament in Ohio with the event culminating the indoor season and the outdoor season waiting in the wings.

Burnett said he has been in the leadership role the past dozen years, serving as vice president for six years prior to that.

“Like anything, this sport takes a lot of practice to perfect,” said Burnett, who started shooting at the age of 12 and became part of the Olympic youth team at the age of 16. He made the team again in 1980, but that year the United States boycotted the games in Russia.

He said while the competition is fierce, this event serves another purpose, that of bringing like-minded people together who are passionate about archery.

“Everyone here shares the same joy and passion for archery,” Burnett said. “Usually, youngsters get involved because they have a father who bow hunts. They start shooting targets and hunting, and one of the great things about this is that archery is a great discipline sport. It teaches you manners, discipline, how to behave and compete with class, and there’s a lot of great things that come from this sport that kids can carry through life that will benefit them greatly.”

He said hunting drives the sport, and the majority of archers participating in the tournament are avid bow hunters. He said the growth the club has experienced and this event are only possible because of the many people behind the scenes.

“We’ve got an incredible group of volunteers who are in this because they enjoy it and want others to experience the thrill of what our club can present to people and especially young people,” Burnett said.

The morning youth line of archers stood at 160 participants, a record number for OAA. With the freestyle men and professionals shooting in the afternoon, the total number came to 325 shooters, another all-time high for the club.

Each set of archers had three minutes to fire off five shots. There are varying lengths from which they shoot, and there are two targets at which they can aim, one a large single target with a bull’s-eye and the other a series of five smaller targets.

Burnett said the equipment the archers are using is expensive, and each person has their own bow that is designed specifically to meet their needs.

“Each bow is meticulously set up for each archer, and they spend months getting that bow set to their exact specifications,” Burnett said. “They invest a lot of time and money into this sport, and while there isn’t a lot of financial return, there is great satisfaction in doing something the right way and performing well under the pressure.”

Burnett said the popularity of the club continues to grow, and they welcome anyone who shares the passion for archery.

To join or to learn more, people can log on to the website at to become an official member of the NFAA, which allows members to shoot at events across the U.S. The annual membership to become a member of OAA is $65 and allows members to shoot at all of the group’s events.

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