Yankton, SD – Dee Wilde, one of the most legendary archers in the world, was formally inducted into the NFAA Hall of Fame during the 2021 NFAA Indoor National Championship Professional shoot off. This event took place on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center, located in Yankton South Dakota.
The NFAA Hall of Fame, which began in 1947, recognizes individuals for their lifetime archery achievements. Wilde, who has been referred to as the “Arnold Palmer of Archery”, is only the 27th member to receive the honor, which illustrates the significance of induction.
Born in November, 1950, Dee Wilde is a seventy-year-old professional archer from Pocatello, Idaho. He has been married to his wife, Leta, for 49 years and together they have four children, Reo, Joshua, Logan and Sabrina – two of whom are also professional archers (Reo and Logan).
Wilde’s first introduction to archery occurred completely by happenstance when he was just 10 years old. He recalled, “I found a bow when I was a kid up on the hill behind our house. Someone had left it there and my dad went and put a string on it and I started shooting.”
An elbow injury in High School prevented him from shooting until after he left the Marine Corps in 1972. Dee recounted, “In 1982, some friends of mine invited me to go on a bow hunt, I shot a recurve back then, and I shot a bear. Then they said, ‘You should come shoot a 3-D with us’, so I went in and shot the 3-D with my recurve, actually tied for 3rd place and won the shoot off. I went and bought a compound bow the next day, and I won the second tournament I ever entered. It wasn’t because I was a better shot. It was because I could judge distance, and in 3-D that makes a big difference.”
Wilde joined the NFAA as a member in 1985, turned pro in 1986, and has amassed an incredible list of accomplishments throughout his storied career, including: First Dakota Classic Champion, National Indoor Champion, National Outdoor Champion, Vegas Shoot Champion, World Champion and World Cup Champion. Wilde represented the United States thirteen times on World Championship Teams and competed on the first Compound World Cup team for the United States, among many others. Wilde was also ranked as the number-one archer in the world nine times, between 1989 and 1999.
Not only an incredibly decorated archer, Wilde is also an extraordinarily well-respected archery coach. He has helped to develop several JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) programs and established coaching and development programs for three different countries, including, Italy, Mexico, and India. See Wilde’s complete archery resume here.
When asked to think back on his career and share which accomplishments meant the most to him, Wilde recounted, “There’s a couple of them. In ’93, my oldest son (Reo) and I won The Vegas Shoot – I won the Professional and he won the Open Division. In ’95, Reo and I were on the World Team together and got a gold medal in the team event in Birmingham England, and then my youngest son (Logan) and I were on a gold medal team together in ’99 in France.” He elaborated, “The ones that mean the most to me are the ones I won with my sons.”
Wilde talked about how the world of competitive archery has evolved since he started shooting in 1985. “Well, when I started, guys couldn’t make a living shooting a bow, and I didn’t. When I won Vegas in ‘87, the prize was $2,500. The top prize at the 50th anniversary (2016) was $50,000, so that’s quite a spread from $2,500.”
He went on to say that The Vegas Shoot (the largest archery competition in the world, which usually draws over 3,500 archers) played a big role in growing the popularity of the sport around the world, “The NFAA and Bruce Cull are instrumental in growing that, and even though it’s not an NFAA enterprise, they had a big role in developing and promoting it.”
Wilde explained how the NFAA’s partnership with Easton – building centers like the NFAA Easton Yankton Archery Center and the Easton Salt Lake Archery Center also played a big role in advancing the sport. “I’ve done coaching for different countries, and I bring teams from different countries like Egypt and India to train there.”
When asked to call to mind some of the things that archery has provided him that he didn’t expect, Wilde shared, “Because I’ve competed internationally, I’ve got to travel to places that I never would have gotten to go to. I was on the first team of any sport allowed back into Cuba, as part of an American Championship, and I’ve been to Cuba twice. I went to a World Field Championship in Wales where it rained so hard that it washed away a bridge that was 300 years old. I’ve been very fortunate to participate in some very unique situations.”
Wilde expressed what it means to receive his induction into the NFAA Hall of Fame, “As a professional archer, this has been at the top of my bucket list, and the main goal of my career. But my family is my real ‘Hall of Fame’, so I guess you could say archery is actually number-two in my life, but you know what? That is a heck of a work and a heck of an accomplishment.”
He went on to share a bit about his children, including how his two pro sons got their start in the sport, “Reo is the oldest, I have another one who doesn’t compete Joshua, and then Logan, who isn’t competing right now, and I have a daughter, Sabrina, who is disabled and was just married a couple of years ago. She was doing charity work and met this guy, and it’s working out really good for both of them.”
“Reo started shooting when he was younger, but he got target panic and quit. Later on, he came to work in my archery shop, and started shooting again. Some guys invited him into their leagues, and he wasn’t doing very good, so people were givin’ him a bad time about it. People kept asking me ‘When you gonna help him?’ I said, When he comes to me. When he comes to me, then he’ll be ready for it, and he’ll go through my program. That was in ‘92 when he decided to try really hard, and went to work at it. In February of ’93, he won the Open Division in Vegas. He started my program in October ’92. We put him through the steps and he followed it to the T, exactly what I laid out there for him.”
With a chuckle, Wilde talked about his other World-Champion-son, Logan, “And then Logan, he just thought because he was a Wilde, he would be good. He had me take him to a Junior World Team Trial, and he got his butt whipped. He didn’t even make the cut to the shoot downs, and that bothered him. So, he came home and he went to work. But he’s shot off for first-place at Vegas, he won the Gold Cup – a couple of different ones. In fact, he won the very first tournament of the World Cup for the United States (1999). I was overcoming neck surgery at that time, but going into that neck surgery I was the number one-ranked archer in the world. So, when they announced the World Cup Teams were available, I told them I wanted myself and my sons on that team. So, the first World Cup Team for the United States was myself, Reo, Logan and Dave Cousins. I wasn’t competitive and I knew I wasn’t, because I was just coming off of neck surgery, but I was gonna be on that team, because I had earned it. In 2001, just before 9/11 we had World Team Trials, supposed to go to China, he was the number-one qualifier for the United States, and he set the world record at 70-meters, which stood for a long, long time, and then 9/11 happened so we didn’t go.”
When asked about the dynamic of competing against his children, Wilde said, “I never had a problem with them beating me, I wanted them to beat me. I always wanted to give my best effort, but I don’t care who you are, if you have a problem or if you need some help, I want to help you. So, if you are shooting against me, I want you shooting the best you can, so when I beat you, I know you’re giving it your best.”
NFAA Foundation President Bruce Cull expressed how momentous Wilde’s induction into the NFAA Hall of Fame is. “The NFAA Hall of Fame is one of the most coveted awards that the NFAA has to offer. In my tenure with the NFAA of over 35 years, it has only been given three times, and all three of those inductees are exactly what Dee Wilde represents, which is a life-long loyalty to the NFAA and to the whole sport of archery. Dee, with all the titles and awards that he’s won throughout his career, personifies what archery is and what giving back to the sport really means.”
At the induction ceremony, Wilde received an NFAA Hall of Fame plaque that reads: “National Field Archery Association congratulates Dee Wilde, 2019 recipient of the NFAA Hall of Fame. The NFAA Recognizes you for your lifetime archery achievements, numerous championships, and records, your World Team representations of the United States, and outstanding coaching recognition. Your archery accomplishments and contributions are greatly appreciated. Presenting on the 20th day of March in the year 2021, at the NFAA headquarters in Yankton, South Dakota, during the 2021 Indoor National Championship.”