PRESTONSBURG — Local archers hit their targets Sunday as East Kentucky Archery opened its 2013 season.
The shoot, at the East Kentucky Archery Range near Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, was the first of 21 scheduled meets for the season.
Archery is “a really good family sport,” because it allows moms, dads and children to all get outside together, said Eric Hall, Floyd County district judge and club secretary.
Chase Conley, a fourth grader at Duff Elementary, came to Sunday’s shoot with his grandfather.
Chase, 9, said he has been shooting at East Kentucky Archery for two years.
Chase’s grandfather carried Chase’s arrows and offered advice — “Take your time” — and encouragement — “Good shooting, buddy.”
The club offers opportunities for the novice and experienced archer.
“All skill levels have the ability to shoot,” Hall said.
The range offers six shooting categories, including women’s, hunter, advance hunter and future bowhunters, for children 8 and under, club President Billy Joe Hamilton said.
We have stakes of different colors that are at the targets,” Hall said, “and those folks that are a little less experienced or are not using the more high-tech equipment shoot closer to the animal and to the target than someone that’s got the more expensive equipment.”
East Kentucky Archery, which was started in the mid-1980s, has more than 100 members, Hamilton said.
In the past four to five years, Hall said in a telephone interview, more women have joined.
Hall said “the biggest part” of the club’s shooters come from Floyd County, because of proximity to the range, but regular shooters for meets come from surrounding counties, most within an hour-and-a-half drive.
East Kentucky Archery has the only 3-D range in the area, he said, with the next closest ranges being in Carter and Boyd counties. A 3-D course can be over different terrains, making it more difficult for archers to guess the yardage to a target.
Saturday’s meet was a 3-D shoot, with participants taking shots at 30 targets from unknown distances, up and down hills and over valleys, which Hall said is “the real fun part of 3-D archery.”
Members said the turnout early Sunday was lower than expected, but the club ended up having around 50 shooters participate in the meet, Hall said.
“As weather continues to moderate into spring, the numbers will grow,” Hall said. “They kind of always do.”
In a meet, each archer gets one shot at each target.
All participants shoot at the same targets, except one, where archers shoot from a tree stand at one of two different animals, depending on the shooter’s division.
The 3-D course is separated into two sides, with 15 targets on each side.
The targets are made from a high-density foam and come in different animal shapes, including deer, bears and dinosaurs.
An arrow to any part of a target earns the archer five points, Hamilton said, and a shot to the vitals earns eight, 10 or 11 points, depending on how direct the shot is.
A perfect score is considered to be 300 points, Hall said, but theoretically an archer could get a 330, if he or she hit the center of the vitals on each target.
Chase Conley shot 139 points out of 150 from his compound bow on the first half of the course. He did not shoot the vitals of every target.
“I’ll get an eight, then I’ll get an 11, then I’ll get an eight, then I’ll get an 11,” Chase said.
Participants shoot different kinds of bows, including traditional bows and compound bows, depending on the category they enter.
Traditional bows have a curved back and a string and are non-mechanical, Hall said.
Compound bows have mechanical devices, including wheels that act like pulleys, to help an archer pull the string back, he said, and are generally more powerful than traditional bows.
Hamilton said East Kentucky Archery has Genesis bows, the type used by the National Archery in Schools Program, for kids who just want to come out and shoot.
Sunday’s shoot cost $10 for members and $20 for non-members.
Kids 15 years and younger could shoot for free, as well as kids who participate in the National Archery in Schools Program, in which several local schools participate, Hall said.
Club members are also willing to advise people who may not be sure about archery or what equipment to buy, Hall said.
Contact information for the club’s board of directors is available on its website, ekarchery.org, and Hall said people who want to learn more about archery can contact one of the members to learn more about the sport.
“If somebody brand-new to archery would like to try this sport without making a big investment, either to money or time, there’s somebody here to help out,” Hall said.
Hall said in the 12 or 13 years East Kentucky Archery has had its current range, there has only been one serious accident, and that was caused by an equipment malfunction.
Archery is an individual sport, Hall said, and an individual competes against his or her own abilities more than against other archers.
East Kentucky Archery will host shoots most weekends now until August, when hunting season begins, Hall said. The club misses a few weekends for holidays.
Deer bowhunting season begins the first Saturday in September, he said, so a 3-D range’s season allows hunters to prepare for real hunting because their muscles stay tuned up and they are able to judge yardages.
The range is also open during the week for people who can’t make weekend shoots, he said.
To shoot at the range’s practice targets cost nothing, Hall said, and archers can shoot on the 3-D range during the week for $5.
The club operates on an honor system to collect the money from people who shoot the range during the week, Hall said. The range made about $2,000 last year from the self-pay box.
The club will host the International Bowhunting Organization state championship and world qualifier March 23 and 24, and members who participated in eight or more East Kentucky Archery shoots will be eligible to compete in the club championship, which will be held Aug. 11, Hall said.
East Kentucky Archery’s next meet will be held Sunday. Registration will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Scorecards must be in by 5 p.m.
More information about the club is available at ekarchery.org.
Winners from Sunday’s shoot:
1st place: Johnny Smith, 298
2nd place: Doc Goble, 293
1st place: Randy Newsome, 293
2nd place: Farley Joseph, 282
1st place: Barbara McIntosh, 245
1st place: Michael Harris, 290
2nd place tie: Randy Hansford and Reggie Evans, 272
1st place: Christy Branham, 295
1st place: Ryan Branham, 124
1st place: Brittany Thacker, 266
1st place: Chase Conley, 266