Generally speaking, most people arrive at an archery club for a 3D Shoot, pay their $10, and proceed to walk through the woods shooting at a variety of foam animals. What many people don’t realize is that there is an awful lot of work involved in putting on a successful event.
As President of Stowe Archers, I know all too well how much work goes into a given event. I thought it might be interesting to break down what actually happens before, during, and after an event at our club.
In an effort to be transparent, the work outlined down below was actually done for two separate events. However, since the 3D course for our Triple Threat Challenge was used for our April 3D Shoot the following weekend, I think it is fair to lump the two together (even if the Triple Threat hadn’t happened, the work would have still been done for our monthly 3D Shoot).
One night, while shooting the 450 League, I got to talking to a member about the property lines. This member, Joe, has been around for a long time and served as President for a number of years. If you need to know something about the club from years ago, Joe is the guy to ask.
Myself, Joe, and another Member (Tim) made arrangements to meet up on a Saturday and walk the property. While doing so, we planned ahead for work that would need to be done in preparation for the upcoming 3D Season.
We came up with a few ideas for expanding the 3D Course and got to work a few weeks later. Joe spent the entire weekend in a machine re-grading our truck paths. Since that work needed to be done anyway, I’m not going to include it when I tally up the hours.
Making a Bridge
On Friday March 11th I took a vacation day from work and made plans to get an early start at the club. I met up with a couple of the members and we made our way to the back corner of the property. Here we planned on putting in a bridge to cross over a creek bed.
This particular part of the property had gone unused for a number of years and was in need of clearing. Downed limbs, leaves, and brush had to be taken out before we could get started on the bridge.
As it turned out, the utility poles we planned on using to span the creek bed were not going to work. While this was a problem, it just so happened that there was a tree that we could drop and use instead. With the tree down, we cut it into two sections and muscled them into place.
We strapped the trees with 2×6 material to make steps and the work for the day was complete.
Volunteer Hours: 16
Clearing New Trails
The following day we had a major work party planned. Joe would be arriving with the machine (again, we aren’t including those hours in the total) and several of us would be cleaning up existing shooting paths and opening up new ones.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get nearly as much help as we had hoped for. We got down to business and began opening up a new trail along the top section of the property. The brush was incredibly thick in some areas but we were all excited about the options this new trail, plus the bridge, would open up for us.
Volunteer Hours: 37
On Sunday a couple of the guys got together to wrap up the last of the planned work. Working in the rain was miserable but we were able to finish up the job. All of the 3D Course Prep Work was complete and we even managed to do a little clean up around the clubhouse.
Volunteer Hours: 11
At this point all of the initial prep work had been completed. You could say that the previous hours weren’t completely necessary to hosting a 3D Archery Shoot and only serve to pad the total. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that but the point is valid. We could have used the course exactly as it was and made no alterations, cutting 64 Volunteer Hours off of the total.
With the lower portion of the property prepped and ready to go, three of us got together to begin laying out the course. By this I mean we physically walked where the course would be placed and began hanging trail markers, dropping shooting stakes, blowing trails, and hanging markers where we wanted animals to be located.
The emphasis of this work party was on safety. It takes a lot of effort to set up a course through the woods and maintain safe shooting angles so that a missed shot doesn’t lead to an accident. It took a good bit of time but we were able to knock out all twenty positions in a single day.
As I said earlier, this setup was for our Triple Threat Challenge and only consisted of 20 3D Targets. Those targets would then be left up for a week so that we didn’t have to re-set the course – saving us a lot of work.
Volunteer Hours: 10
With the course layout complete, the next task at hand was to haul out the 3D Targets and get them in place. Once set we then had to locate all of our shooting stakes (4 Total) and trim any brush or branches that would block a shot.
This task doesn’t sound like much but let me assure you, it is a lot of work. The animals aren’t exactly light and many of them had to be carried into the woods from the truck path.
Volunteer Hours: 23-1/2
Course Layout and Setup
With the 20 Target course setup for the Triple Threat, we ran the event as planned and did not break down afterwards. The following week we were back in the woods to alter the course slightly and put up 10 more targets for our Monthly 3D Shoot.
2 Targets needed to be re-positioned then we needed to re-route the course up a hill and onto our upper Field Course. Our Range Captain put in a few hours laying out the course, on the day before (which is reflected in the hours below) and all we had to do was deliver animals, set animals, hang trail markers, and set shooting stakes.
Unfortunately, it rained all day and it was wet and miserable work.
Volunteer Hours: 21
Staffing and Tear Down
With the course finally setup, it was now time to run the event. At Stowe we generally use a team of at least three people to staff an event. One person runs registration, one runs the kitchen, and we like to have one additional person on hand in case anyone needs a break or if we need someone to run out for more food.
In this case we actually wound up with four people. A newer member wanted to get in some hours for a key and was kind enough to hang out all day lending a hand with cooking as well as odds and ends.
The first person usually arrives at 6:00am to get the club opened up. Once the club is in order and coffee is on, we usually run bottled water out and place it on the course. Registration opens at 7:00am and doesn’t close until 12:30pm. The kitchen is also running during that time and stays open a bit later for anyone coming in off the course late.
When the last person is off the course we begin breaking down. Animals, along with trail markers and stakes, need to be pulled and placed next to the truck path. A separate team generally comes along in a truck and hauls them away as the others continue to work ahead of them.
Once the course is completely torn down the animals need to be put away and stakes need to be separated and stored (we color-code them). Realistically there are two seperate work parties on a Shoot Day – one to staff the event and one to clean it up. Since it all happens in one day, I just lumped the totals together down below.
Volunteer Hours: 38-1/2
How Does Stowe Archers Survive?
At this point you are probably thinking one of two things. The first is With all of those hours how does your club survive. The second is probably Wow, you guys must get plenty of help!
The answer to the first question is simple – we have some very dedicated members who bust their ass around the club. They put in the time and sweat to make the club a better pace for all of us and I am extremely grateful.
The answer to the second question is no…
The volunteer total for all of the work listed above comes out to 33 people. The sad truth is that a small portion of the membership does the majority of the work around the club. The real figure is that we had 13 individuals perform 157 hours of work.
As I said earlier, the initial 64 hours of preparation can be backed out of the total because it wasn’t completely necessary to host our April 3D Shoot. That brings the total down to 93 hours – which is still an awful lot of time.
Most clubs generally spend a lot of time setting up the first 3D Shoot of the year. This is when trails and paths need to be cut back in. Once that happens, it saves a considerable amount of time because future events use the same lanes and target locations. Stakes need to be re-located but the time it takes to do that is minimal compared to laying out new target locations.
At Stowe Archers, we’ll most likely use many of the same shooting lanes and target locations. This will save time in future setup, however, with the prep work that we did early on, it gives us the option to alter the course.
Changing the course a bit from month to month means more work but I honestly believe it makes for a far better experience for the archers shooting at our events. I don’t know if it is realistic to expect a different course every month but I’m willing to put in the time as long as our Range Captain is willing.
How Can I Help?
The simple answer is find a club, join a club, and help when you can. From what I’ve seen most clubs have a too few volunteers and too much work to do. If just a few extra people came out to help during work parties it would go a long way towards easing the strain and preventing volunteers from burning out.
If you aren’t a member, be sure to hang around after you finish shooting. Talk with the guys staffing the event, buy some food from the kitchen, and share your thoughts on the course. Word of mouth goes a long way in helping shooter turnout and all of the clubs in my area could use an extra couple of shooters each month.