New Mexico · Outdoors · Running · Sports

The Bowslingers

Once upon a Saturday…

It felt like a race morning.

Except for the McGriddle I ate for breakfast.

I woke up at 7 am and an hour or so later, I arrived at the Sandia Crest Bowhunters Association (SCBA) archery range. The occasion? The SCBA Make-A-Wish Benefit 3D Shoot. I was there to act as support crew, which in this case meant carrying water and car keys, and doing my best not to get shot by an arrow.

But going back to my original statement, replace all the bows and arrows with running gear, and you’d have a 5k. Early weekend morning? Check. Proceeds going to charity? Check. A broad range of skill/experience, from veterans of the trade down to little kids? Check. People warming up before the start? Check. A butterfly or two in my belly, even though I wasn’t competing at all? Er, check.

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After warm-up time, though, it started feeling more like a golf tournament. For this particular shoot, the participants had 27 targets, spread out like golf holes, all of them 3D. This means instead of the typical flat bulls-eye target that we all remember from P.E. or summer camp archery lessons, the targets were 3-dimensional fake animals, such as deer, bear, boar, etc. to better simulate the hunting experience. Pretty cool.

The participants were divided into groups of between three and five or six people, and each group started at a different target. Each person was allowed to shoot two arrows per target. The distance a shooter stood from the target depended on their bow: compound bows (the fancier kind, with more power) faced the longest distance, with traditional bows (not as fancy) a little closer in, and the kids obviously standing the closest.

Once everyone in a group finished shooting and scores for that target got tabulated (Picture a miniature golf scorecard. No, seriously.), the group moved on to the next target. Now, our group only had three official shooters, so we moved pretty quickly, but we had to wait for the group ahead to finish before we could continue. Multiply that all around the course, and…well…it was an all-day event.

No matter! The guys in our group were really nice, and we chatted and got to know each other as we made our way around the course. One of them even let me borrow his bow so I could do a little practice shooting. As we talked amongst ourselves and with the other groups, I felt like I had stumbled upon a hidden treasure. I had thought archery/bowhunting was fairly esoteric – Brave and The Hunger Games notwithstanding – but here was this crowd of people, all of whom seemed incredibly friendly and more than willing to share and teach this interest of theirs.

After all the groups were done, it felt once again like a race: there was food, an awards ceremony, and a raffle. With a full stomach and a free t-shirt, I was a happy cheerleader/groupie/neophyte. And as everyone mingled during the post-shoot festivities, a question I heard exchanged between participants just as much as “How’d you shoot?” was “Did you have fun?”

I did.

I might just need to go back.

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