NFAA National Field Championship – July 2000


The last time I shot the NFAA National Field Championship, was in 1975 at Jay Peak, Vermont – 25 years ago. The NFAA is the National Field Archery Association and deals primarily with field archery.


I arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma (SEA-TAC) airport on Wednesday morning at 3:05, picked up my rental 4WD Subaru Outback and headed south for Mt. St. Helens.  The state built a 20-mile road into the mountain to encourage tourist attraction after the mountain blew its top in 1980. I saw many photos and film of the explosion but seeing it in person is awesome! I stopped several times along the way to snap some photos and each view seemed more impressive than the last.


It was early in the morning and I was the only person on the road. The mist rolled up the slopes and many times the mountain was shrouded in white. I stopped at the Cold Water Ridge visitor center and spent some time just viewing the mountain. From that angle, I could see up inside the crater.


There was still snow both inside and outside on the slopes. The surrounding area showed scars of the great explosion. Many areas still had trees that were blown over from the blast. The valley below was like a moonscape. A very impressive sight!


There is another road that will get you closer that ends at the Johnson Ridge Observatory but I didn’t have time to see it all but I plan to return when I can spend half a day there and possibly hike up into the crater itself. This is a maybe because it is still listed as active and you can see where a bubble forming inside.


Darrington, Washington is a quiet little town north of Seattle and east of Arlington. The town sits on the west side of the great Cascades with a population of 1500. The drive from Arlington to Darrington was really spectacular and I enjoyed every mile. I stopped many times to take photos.


The archery range is at the base of a Whitehorse Mountain and every once in awhile; you can see the snow-capped peaks through the trees. Which wasn’t often because the woods are very thick. This is a very old forest that has only been cut once in modern times and is considered a second-growth forest. Neither words nor photos can accurately describe this place but it sure was a respite from the hot, humid weather of Houston.


During the tournament, I saw a tree trunk that was cut about five feet off the ground where the trunk stops tapering. You could still see the tetter-board marks on both sides of the tree. A logger would cut a notch in the tree, place a tetter-board in the notches and then stand on the tetter-board to cut the tree. There was a notch on both sides of the tree and two men worked together with a huge bucksaw, not a chain saw. The tree and rest of the forest was estimated to have been cut about a hundred years ago.


This town is small; one gas station, three taverns, and only two places to eat; a restaurant and a pizza joint. Darrington has hosted the NFAA national field championship in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2000. In 1988 and 1991, the NFAA nationals were in conjunction with the IFAA world field championship. IFAA is the International Field Archery Association.


The local mascot is the Loggers and after chatting with a fellow with a Bobcat hat, he told me that in the high school, trapping is a required course.


For the uninitiated, the NFAA national field championship is normally a five-day event, which consists of two field rounds, two hunter rounds and an animal round. In 2000 and 2001, the event is an experimental three-day event but the consensus seems to be to change it back to a five day event.


The field round has a black five-ring, a white four-ring and then a black three-ring. Four arrows per target for a potential 20 points per target for 28 targets. The hunter round is a white five-ring and the four-ring and three-ring is black. The animal target has a kill zone worth 20 points and a wound worth 18 points. If your first arrow fails to make its mark, then a second arrow is worth 16 for a kill or 14 for a wound. If a third arrow is necessary, it is worth 12 or 10.


The Darrington archery club has six ranges spread out through the woods in varying degrees of difficulty. With approximately 400 archers, they need a lot of ranges. Two courses were flat, two were liberal and two were difficult – i.e.  shooting uphill, downhill, and sideways. One of the courses is even handicap accessible, first time I ever heard of a wheelie being capable of shooting field targets.


After the first day of shooting, I took a wonderful drive up into the mountains. Miles and miles of thick, dense forest with snow-capped peaks on the tallest mountains. I was looking for the North Fork Falls that the Locals gave me directions for. The scenic highway took me about 13 miles before I found the turn-off and drove up a dirt road for a couple miles. As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle, I could hear the waterfall crashing down through the hills. The hike was a quarter mile down the hill and a magnificent scene came upon me as the water came crashing down the gully into the stream below. The falls was only about 50-60 feet tall but the river narrowed quickly at the crest and dumped huge volumes of water over the edge, cascading down into the river below. The water sprayed a mist over the area and it was refreshing. I climbed down a precarious ledge onto the rocks below. I walked very cautiously as the rocks were slippery. I took a couple photos and sat there for a while just watching the water thundering down.


I headed back to town as the Locals invited me to a B-B-Q; ribs, brisket and a slab of salmon. I asked what I could bring and they said they were happy to have archers come and that is what they like to do; be hospitable to strangers.  My mouth watered the whole trip back down from the mountain.


The following day I ate at the pizza joint. I asked directions from a couple of walkers who were also looking for the place and we finally found it down a side street. I chatted with the two guys over dinner. They were from the Czech Republic. They were attending a seminar in Seattle and had a week to kill before returning so they were checking out the state. I envied them and plan to do the same someday. I want to see more of this state, it is really beautiful!


On the outskirts of town is a visitor’s center with a slab of wood displayed under a cover. The slice of wood came from a tree that measured nine feet across and shows hundreds and hundreds of rings. The town was established around 1879 and has a tag pointing to that ring on the wood. The tag is barely 4 four inches from the edge of the cut so the tree is near 700 hundred years old.


I heard there was an old mining trail that leads to the top of the snow-capped peaks (Whitehorse Mt. 6852’) that overlooked the archery range. Maybe on the next visit, I will take a day and trek to the top.



After the final day of shooting is the awards ceremony. The awards table was filled with Silver bowls awarded to first place in each division. I shot very well and won first place in the Freestyle Limited Recurve/Longbow division. The award ceremony was at 3:30 and I had a flight out of Seattle at 7:55. I wished I had more time to look around this part of the state and plan to return as soon as possible.


I dropped my rental off, took a shuttle to the airport, and got on the plane. A one hour layover in Las Vegas and I was back in Houston around 4:30 a.m.


That is all for this trip.  Rick