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Give it a shot.

Byline: Mike Stahlberg The Register-Guard

Five-year-old Jake Eden kneeled and pulled back on his small bow, sighting through a large culvert at a life-sized model of a javelina.

"Jake, I want you to take that yellow pin and put it above his back," the boy's father, John Eden, said.

"Take your time. That piggy s not going anywhere."

When Jake loosed his arrow, it flew through the culvert, and skittered at the target's feet.

"He's only shooting 13 pounds (of pull on the bow)," John Eden said, "That's why his arrows don't go very far."

The youngster was one of about 130 archers of all ages and ability levels who sharpened their archery skills during a recent "3-D fun shoot" held at the Cascadian Bowmen's range about 25 miles northwest of Eugene.

The level of competition at the range will increase markedly Saturday and Sunday when the club holds its 26th annual Greater Oregon Safari shoot, its biggest event of the year.

About 300 bow and arrow buffs are expected to compete in a dozen different categories in an event that has become an Independence Day weekend tradition for many archers.

"We get shooters from all over - California, Texas, Nevada, Utah," said Bob Cockrum, a past president of the Cascadian Bowmen and a current board member.

"We're one of the top 10 clubs in the United States with the National Field Archery Association, and we draw quite a few pro shooters."

The event is called a "safari" because African game animals account for the majority of the 60 targets participants will be aiming their arrows at over the two days.

About a third of the safari targets will be 3-D - meaning they are life-sized replicas of animals constructed of rubberized foam. Among them will be an elephant, lion, cheetah and hippopotamus. The "bulls-eye" is each animal's vital area, or the spot a hunter would try to hit to produce the most efficient kill if the animal were real.

The 40 other targets will be two-dimensional animals painted on paper.

The Safari shoot will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, with registration open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday. Registration costs $45 for adults, $65 per couple or $70 per family. Youth entries are $25. (Details and driving directions: www.Cascadianbowmen.org)

All the Safari targets will be at known distances, ranging up to 102 yards for the life-sized elephant.

"That's quite a shot for me because I shoot a traditional long bow," said Tom Burnham, who is among those setting up this year's Safari. "On that shot, I have to aim the tip of my arrow about 42 feet above the elephant's back."

Safari targets will have hay bale backstops to catch arrows that miss, thus reducing the need to hunt for wayward arrows.

At most 3-D trail shoots, however, there are no backstops and the archers must estimate the distance to targets.

At the recent fun shoot, those factors - coupled with the large number of young shooters participating - resulted in the event resembling an Easter-egg hunt at times.

"Only arrows hide better than Easter eggs" grumbled one father who'd had to help search for several of his son's arrows.

But even very experienced archers can aim too high or too low if they significantly misjudge the distance to a target.

"The first 3-D shoot I shot in my life, I had a dozen and a half arrows when I started, and by the time I went home I think I had three arrows," said Cockrum, the former Bowmen's president.

The object of 3-D shoots is to simulate conditions an archer will encounter while hunting game, so in that sense difficult shots at unknown distances are realistic.

"I like to make things kind of like you would see, or would like to see in the wild," said Scott Anstine, the club's 3-D coordinator, who set up the targets for the fun shoot.

Sometimes, being realistic means providing a small "window," framed by trees, brush and branches, for the arrow to fly through.

Maintaining a variety of 3-D targets is one of the club's biggest expenses, according to Anstine.

"Like, a buffalo would be $1,300, an elk $900 and some of the larger deer can be $400."

And the targets can wear out after being punctured hundreds of times by arrows. That's why many of them have removable "vitals area," so that the part that suffers the most damage can be replaced separately.

The popularity of 3-D shoots has grown during the past 30 years as interest in bowhunting has exploded. (About 36,000 archery tags were issued to deer hunters in Oregon in 2011, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.)

Many hunters look to 3-D shoots hosted by one of the two-dozen archery clubs in Oregon to practice their skills.

"I go to 3-D's just about every weekend I can," Sean Wood of Philomath said while on a lunch break during his round at the recent Cascadian Bowmen event. "There's a shoot or two somewhere in the state every weekend."

While the majority of people who participate in 3-D shoots are probably "bowhunters who are getting ready for the season," Anstine said, "we also have a lot of people who mostly shoot tournaments."

"3-D" may turn out to be a passing fad in TV, but it's become a standard in archery.

LOCAL ARCHERY CLUBS

Contact information for local archery clubs, along with any major upcoming events scheduled:

Benton Bowmen: Kings Valley Highway, Corvallis. Will hold a 50-target 3-D shoot July 13-14. Info: (541) 753-8945 or www.bentonbowmen.com.

Cascadian Bowmen: 91714 Poodle Creek Road, Noti. Greater Oregon Safari shoot July 6-7. Info: 541-998-3871 or www.cascadianbowmen.org Green Valley Archers: 81474 Lost Creek Road, Dexter. Next major event is the "Stick in the Mud" shoot in January. Info: (541) 510-4405 or www.green-valleyarchers.weebly.com.

South Umpqua Bowhunters: Dole Road, Myrtle Creek. Hosts two shoots a year in the spring. Info: (541) 863-6841.

Southwestern Oregon Bowhunters: 70396 W. Fork Millicoma Road, Coos Bay. Will hold a 40-target 3-D shoot July 13-14. Details: 541-290-7093.

Tioga Archers: Roseburg. Shoots at the Roseburg Rod and Gun Club, 875 Old Del Rio Road. Info: 541-580-1563 or www.rrgclub.org.

Wapiti Bowmen: 34861 Richardson Gap Road, Lebanon. To hold its annual education class and field day on July 27 ($10); and Mel Schmidt Memorial 3-D Shoot on Aug. 17-18. Field day info: Craig Starr, 541-258-3582 or craig1945@centurylink.net. Club info: 541-258-7595 or www.wapitibowmen.com.
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Title Annotation:Hunting
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 2, 2013
Words:1097
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