More than 85 archers trekked to the Kenai Peninsula over the weekend for the annual Independence Day 3D shoot where instead of the traditional red bull’s-eye, animals and dinosaurs were the targets.
Organized by the Alaska State Archery Association and the Kenai Peninsula Archers Club over the Fourth of July weekend, the event gave archers a good excuse for a road trip.
The club’s parking area doubled as a campground over the weekend, even though the weather had some delay in cooperating. The pouring rain Saturday was at fault for some difficulties.
“Binoculars get fogged up, scope lenses get spotted with water, you can physically see water trails come off arrows as they leave your bow,” said Wasilla resident Dan Perry.
The rain weakens the strings on the bow, and can result in some minor injuries if it snaps like it did for Perry.
“You can punch yourself in the mouth like I did,” he said with a grin.
Archers came from all over the state to participate in the shoot.
Club president Len Malmquist said the goal is to host the best shoot in the state.
“The archers club worked really hard to put this on, as far as we’re concerned, we’d like to make this the number one shoot in the ASAA,” Malmquist said.
Judging from the turnout this year, it is safe to say the club is on the right track. A distinct path through wooded areas guide archers to the next station. One station includes a hill formed by glacial deposits, nicknamed the “rock shot”. The targets are made from foam and provide a realistic simulation of what archers could expect in a real life situation.
“The hosts have been very friendly and helpful,” Cindy Shiell from Valdez said. “It’s a great, laid-out course with some really nice shots.”
Shiell’s husband, Steve is an adviser for the collegiate Olympic style team in Valdez.“This is actually one of the first 3D shoots that had marked yardages,” he said. “Believe it or not, it actually has additional challenges than unmarked.”
ASAA Tournament Director Andrew Wilson said this event is something he has been waiting anxiously for.
“This is the best shoot I’ve ever been to, statewide. This is by far my favorite one,” Wilson said. “This is something I’ve looked forward to for a long time.”
Wilson, 25, has been a professional archer for about five or six years. He said he welcomes the challenge of the 3D targets.
“Shooting a paper-face target, it’s real easy to see where you want to hit, and you shoot the middle,” he said. “Out here when you’re shooting the 3D targets, you can’t always see the scoring ranks.
“You have to look through your binoculars and pick something, be it a lighter spot on the target or a crease to aim at. It makes it a little bit more challenging and a lot more fun.”
Larry Elam, vice president of the Alaska Bowhunters Association, is enamoured with the course.
“I’ve come down here about six years in a row, I’d miss all the other ones for this one,” he said. “We want to make archery grow, especially for the kids, because that’s the future of archery, kids coming up,”
Malmquist stressed the importance of archery being something the entire family can enjoy. Proof of that was on display this weekend with 19 kids entered in the tournament.
“Probably the biggest thing that a lot of people seem to think is some kids are built for different sports, but any kid can do archery,” Malmquist said. “It teaches them hand-eye coordination, juvenile archers are more coordinated as a result of participating in this sport.”
Eight-year-old Madison Jane McDonald was out on the course with her parents and her pink camouflage bow.
The Barber family from Palmer participated in the shoot for the first time.
“We just heard from so many people that it’s just lots of fun, the best shoot in the state,” said Heather Barber, 39. “And it was.”
Barber’s daughter, Morgan said she enjoyed the shoot as well.
“All the different stuff you have to shoot off of and all the different angles, it’s just a lot different from anywhere I’ve shot,” the 13-year-old said.
David Edmunds and Greg Resch are two archers who still shoot the traditional bow. The difference, Edmunds said, is practice, compared to the compound bows which are technical and accurate. With traditional bows, there is more practice involved.
“I like shooting traditional archery because you have to practice a lot.” Edmunds said. “You’re always chasing that better shot.”