It’s a bull’s eye
Maybe you can credit Katniss Everdeen of “The Hunger Games” or Princess Merida of “Brave” or even Hawkeye of “The Avengers” fame, but archery isn’t just for hunters any more.
“I would have to say that 50 percent of our member are non-hunters. They just enjoy the sport of archery and coming to tournaments and shooting,” said Eagle resident Lisa Tenbrook, who serves as secretary/treasurer of the Colorado State Archery Association.
This coming weekend, Eagle will be the hot spot for the state’s archery enthusiasts with the CSAA’s State Indoor Championships slated for Saturday and Sunday at the Eagle River Center at the Eagle County Fairgrounds.
“We have been hosting tournaments here in Eagle for some time,” said Tenbrook. “Because of the location, with Eagle being right off of Interstate 70 and having hotels and restaurants available, everyone wants to come to Eagle.”
That feeling is reciprocal.
“This is just the kind of event we are looking to bring to Eagle,” said Amy Cassidy, Eagle marketing and events coordinator. She noted the archery tournament participants book hotel rooms and visit local business and restaurants during their stay. The event has proved so popular in the past that the town’s Marketing and Events Committee earmarked $1,000 for the event to sweeten the tournament prize pot.
In addition to Eagle’s geography, Tenbrook said the Eagle River Center is a great venue for archers.
“We are able to line up everyone pretty much so they are shooting at one time,” she noted.
That’s no small feet considering there are so many different categories of competition available.
“There is a class for everybody and we have competitors from age 5 to age 80 or 90,” said Tenbrook.
“The NFAA (National Field Archery Association) promotes numerous shooting styles including freestyle, freestyle limited, barebow, competitive bowhunter, bowhunter freestyle, freestyle limited, recurve, and traditional. NFAA competition divisions include Cub, Youth, Young Adult, Adult, Senior, Silver Senior, Master Senior and Professional,” notes the NFAA website.
In short, if someone is interested to take up competitive archery it’s highly likely there’s a division to match his or her skills. That’s certainly what the Tenbrook family discovered about 25 years ago.
According to Lisa, a couple decades ago she purchased a bow for her husband Ray one Valentine’s Day. “It snowballed from there,” she said. “The great thing about archery is it was something we could do as a family.”
Ray is currently serving as the president of the Colorado State Archery Association. Additionally, the Tenbrooks’ 28-year-old son Tyler regularly competes in tournaments. Daughter Kayla, 22, placed first in a couple youth tournaments, but she now attends events as a spectator.
Because they are empty nesters, the Tenbrooks indulge their passion for archery competition by traveling to tournaments throughout the country. “It is more than just a hobby for us,” Lisa said, in a classic example of understatement.
“In a couple of weeks we will be in Alabama and then we will be in Texas and then we will be in Kentucky,” she said. “For our archery season, the only time we have off is September and October, and that is hunting season.”
What is it about archery competition that keeps the Tenbrooks so engaged? They love the camaraderie and the thrill of competition.
“If you win, it is just you and your bow, not a team,” said Tenbrook.
At the same time, Tenbrook said she and Ray have forged wonderful friendships with their fellow archers. The competitive group is tight-knit, as evidenced by fund-raiser tournaments organized for archers who are facing medical bills or other financial hardships.
This weekend’s competition will feature five arrow rounds at 20 yards for adults and 10 yards for cubs and Pee-Wee. Entry fees are $25 for adults, $15 for young adults, youth, cub and pee-wee. Attendance is free for spectators.
“Archery is expensive, so we try to help out as much as we can with the kids, especially with the entry fees,” said Tenbrook.
For anyone who opts to come and watch, Tenbrook advises bringing binoculars because while the shooting range itself isn’t that long, it can be difficult to track individual shots without some magnification.
Registration gets under way at 11 a.m. Saturday and Tenbrook estimates between 180 to 200 archers will participate in the state championship tournament. She noted 120 archers have already pre-registered.
The first round gets under way at 1 p.m. on Saturday with a spot round planned at 6:30 p.m. Sunday’s competition will begin at 9 a.m.
Tenbrook offered a special shout out to the town of Eagle for its efforts to make archers welcome and to the Eagle County Facilities Management crew, for their work at the events center.
“We are so fortunate in Eagle that we have a facility so large that we can host a tournament like this,” she said.
To learn more or to register for this weekend’s competition, visit http://www.coloradoarchery.org.