Victory Archery
Tuesday March 18, 2014
48 Targets, One Lost Arrow and a Great Day With a Young Archer
Editor's note: After the brutal and historic Winter of 2013-14, archers and bowhunters in many parts of the country are anxious to get outside on the 3D range. Such was the case with our friend and associate Michael Pearce, outdoors editor of The Wichita Eagle. JRA

Should you be wandering around out west of Clearwater (Kansas) anytime soon, please keep your eye out for an arrow. It's a Carbon Express, probably with neon yellow and green vanes.

It might be anywhere from five to ten miles west of town and about two miles either side of 103rd. I can get you no closer than that. I just know it's not sticking into a foam antelope target like it should have been. But hey, that I only lost one arrow out of 48 fun, hunting-like animal targets won't have me complaining.

Jake Holem removes a well-shot arrow from a 3D target. Yes, it's the one I missed totally.
Saturday I spent the afternoon, and some of the evening, at the Ninnescah Bowhunters 3D archery range. My 11-year-old outdoor buddy, Jake Holem was with me, testing out his new bow. Kimberly, Jake's mom, was along to enjoy the day outdoors, keep score, congratulate Jake on his mostly great ones...and console me on my many failures.

Once a month the long-standing archery club tucked down near the Ninnescah River, hosts a day or two of shooting at 3-D targets. They include foam, live-sized likenesses of assorted deer, caribou, mountain goats, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, bears, turkeys, a wolverine a super-sized cobra target Jake loved and the danged antelope target that seemed to have some force-shield that deflected my arrows.

Throughout the property club members have placed the targets in hunt-like situations. Some are down in nice timber and some are on tall grass prairie. Most are shot at ground level and a few from high ridges or elevated platforms.

Some offer complete views of the target. At a few stations you have to be about half contortionist to lean out, in, up or down to thread an arrow through a tiny opening surrounded by really big trees.

(To the member who placed the shooting spot on a side-hill only a billy goat could climb, and only offered a tiny fraction of the standing bear for the target...nice try, I did NOT put an arrow into either of the Sequoia-sized cottonwoods my arrow had to pass within inches of...so there!)

Different classes of shooters shoot from different places on each target. I enrolled in the "hunter" class, because that's what I am, a bowhunter and not an avid target archer. Most of the shots were from 40 shots on in, with a lot around 30 yards. Much of the challenge is estimating the shooting range. Range finders aren't allowed for those keeping score.

Some shots were on open prairie...
Jake was in one of the three youth classes, and had shots from about five to 23 yards.

The crowd was light, but the members on hand were very helpful and supportive. (And hopefully one will find that wayward arrow, too!)

We walked the course mostly on our own, Jake and I shooting while Kimberly kept score and tried not to laugh, (loud enough for me to hear, anyway,) at some of my shots.

Saturday afternoon the weather was stunning, and I particularly liked the walks down along the Ninnescah. With nothing but open air and deep water behind those ten or so targets concentration was important.

It was also just a danged pretty view, especially when Kimberly noticed a mature bald eagle sailing down the stream (the first she'd ever seen) and the bird perched on a limb across the river.

Darrell Allen, a member I've known for years, said it would take about three hours to do the course. Not our group of slow-pokes. They have you shoot the same 24 targets, twice, but they change the location from where you shoot. It took us more than four hours, with only a minimal rest in between, but a fair amount of time looking for my lost arrows.

Others were in river bottom timber. All were a lot of fun.
My range estimation was a bit off on the first round, and I just knew I'd shoot better the second. But a lost arrow, and a couple of other total whiffs say differently. The angles and distances offered were harder on the second round. Fatigue also played a factor, too. Yes, Jake shot better than I did but I did OK, though.

Jake's ready to go again, maybe back to Ninnescah Bowhunters or maybe a range by Hutchinson. Kimberly is also showing an interest in giving archery a try, and she may be rigged up with a bow in the next week or so.

Great, that means next shoot I may have two beginners putting me to shame. Oh well, ...

As for the matter of that lost arrow. If you happen to live anywhere within a five mail radius of the 3D course, and you happen to find an adult-sized arrow stuck in, say, your house, a tire on a automobile or a piece of lawn furniture...you have my sincere sympathy and complete denial.

- Appearing with permission of Michael Pearce and The Wichita Eagle. Read Michael's Kansas Outdoors Blog at http://blogs.kansas.com/outdoors/

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