In previous posts, I talked about how I wanted to get back into archery. I used to shoot a lot as a kid and enjoyed walking through the woods and shooting a bow. After a little research online, I came up with a couple of clubs nearby that hold monthly shoots. The first one that didn’t conflict with my schedule was Hamburg Fish & Game.
With the shoot getting closer, I got out to Topton Fish & Game to double check my sight pins and prepare for my first 3D Archery Shoot in years. While I had a great time, things did not get out to a very good start.
Shooting The Course
I arrived at the club, which was very easy to find, and made my way over to the registration area. I was greeted with a smile and given the basic rundown. The course starts over there, follow the pink ribbons through the woods and shoot from the pink flags. If I wanted to shoot closer or farther away, just make sure I was shooting in the same path as marked by the flags. The trails are clearly marked so if you’re walking or shooting through brush, you’re going the wrong way.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, leave it to me to over-think it and get off to a rough start. I began following the ribbons and come to the very first flag. I look around and see a black bear leaning on a tree. I take one look at it and become puzzled, it looks like I’m supposed to shoot through some branches. Maybe this isn’t where I shoot from?
At this point I start following the ribbons further, trying to find another flag with a better angle on the bear. Before I know it I’m at another flag and looking at a great shot on a pig. Now I’m confused, where the hell am I supposed to shoot that bear from? I didn’t see a path up to the bear to retrieve my arrows and start walking back towards the first flag. I know that walking backwards on an archery course is a huge no-no, so I stop and am at a complete loss for what to do.
Fortunately, the guy from registration saw me standing there in all my dumbfounded glory and pointed me in the right direction. I never did shoot at the bear and started the course on the second target. I wasn’t off to a great start but it could only get better right?
Since I was so out of practice, I decided to bring my range-finder along and use it on every target. This would help me learn to gauge distance as I guessed, then verified, as well as help me not lose too many arrows. I put a decent shot on the pig and moved along the course. Target three was a very familiar looking black bear, so I must have completely blown past the first target.
I wound through the woods and was able to find the remaining targets without issue. I shot perhaps a dozen more targets before I caught up to another group of shooters. This group was waiting on another group and a small backup started. I didn’t mind and had fun watching them shoot and discuss each target. Two people in their group apologized, on two different occasions, for holding me up. I explained that I was in no rush and they should take their time. I was asked if I wanted to join them but I was range-finding every target and snapping photos, so rather than chance holding them up, I politely declined.
It wasn’t until I came up to the first longer shot that I ran into trouble. I set my 30 yard pin onto a animal and let my arrow fly. I watched it miss high by couple of inches and crash into the brush. I nocked another arrow and let it fly, this time hitting my mark. I tried finding the arrow but it was lost in a patch of thorns and I didn’t want to wade into them to try and uncover it (I couldn’t see it looking from outside the brush).
I finished the course only having lost one arrow. It was one more than I wanted to lose but I enjoyed myself nonetheless.
Course Setup and Targets
It has been years and years since I’ve spent any substantial amount of time on an archery range. As a kid, I shot at Wapiti Archers and still think of it as the pinnacle of archery ranges (despite my experience being very limited). Wapiti was a field archery course back then and they had targets of varying size and distance, uphill and downhill shots, and a shooting platform to simulate shooting from a tree stand. Hamburg Fish & Game had all of this and more.
Despite my early bonehead screwup, the course was laid out very well. In areas where there might be confusion, rope blocked the path. There was a nice array of targets and I was happy that I didn’t have to shoot one deer after another, after another.
All of the targets were between 17 and 30 yards but the club set up shots that took advantage of natural cover. Sometimes you were shooting around trees, sometimes brush blocked a portion of the target, but the vitals were always clear.
There were several shooting platforms spread throughout the course and there was even an elevated target to shoot at. The path through the woods was a very pleasant walk, at no point was I slogging through mud or felt like I was climbing a mountain.
A couple of targets showed their age and sported a fair bit of wear. I watched one shooter blow through a target and lose an arrow. This wasn’t something I had to worry about with my bow. Bow racks were few and far between but I suppose that is the nature of the beast when setting up a 3D Course through the woods which is constantly changing.
Visiting The Club Again
The cost of the match was $10 for 30 Targets. Even if you were to add in the cost of my one lost arrow, I felt like I got my monies worth and would certainly visit again. In fact, I wanted to loop back around and shoot the course a second time but registration was closed and a private party appeared to be setting up in the pavilion.
I wanted to talk with someone afterwards about joining but decided against it with the pavilion being used (that is where registration was). Going through the woods, I noticed target bales setup and I was curious if there was a walking course open to the membership on non-shoot days. If there is a course available, I would join in a heartbeat.
Unfortunately, this was the last 3D Sunday Shoot of the year for Hamburg. I believe they run a little later into the year with a 15 Target Course during the week. Weekday shoots never work out for me because I watch my 3 year old daughter while my wife attends classes at night. Because of how well the course was setup, I am considering bringing my daughter along one night during the week. She is too little to shoot but may enjoy spending time with me in the woods (plus I wouldn’t mind a little cheerleader for when I make the occasional good shot).
Photos of the Course
When I left my house, I brought along three video cameras. The idea was to set one camera up looking at the target, one looking at me, and a spare for something clever (I want to get a bow-mount at some point). I wound up leaving them in the car because the club looked busy and I didn’t want to hold anyone up.
I used my iPhone to snap photos of each target, from the shooting location, and my shot. Most of them turned out bad due to me trying to hold my bow in one hand and snap the photo with my other hand. Next time I’ll set my bow down on the ground and do a better job of getting photos.