Archery on target for growing popularity

Local ranges offer opportunity to socialize, challenge oneself


Archery is challenging, but can also be a way to relax. It’s a social sport, as well as a way for an individual to strive to achieve a personal best.

“It gets in your blood,” said Jim Murrow of Morrison. “Over all the years, I’m still learning. It seems like every year I learn something new from somebody.”

Murrow, 63, has been practicing archery since he was a little kid, he said. It all started when his mother found a bow leaning against a tree somewhere in Colorado’s mountains sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s, Murrow said. Through the years, he started receiving bows and arrows as Christmas and birthday gifts.

“As I got older, I developed the interest,” Murrow said. “And it stayed with me through adulthood.”

Murrow currently serves the vice president of Golden High Country Archers and enjoys the sport for hunting and competitions.

“For me, it’s a constant learning process,” Murrow said. “You’re always trying to get better.”

Archery is the sport of using a bow to shoot arrows at a target. It dates back thousands of years — perhaps as long ago as the Stone Age — and evidence of humans using bows and arrows for hunting and warfare can be found around the world.

Today, people practice archery for leisure, hunting and competition.

“Archery is growing in popularity,” said Mark Giebel, director of Highlands Ranch’s Backcountry Wilderness Area.

But despite that, there is a lack of outdoor archery ranges, particularly 3D ranges, in the Denver metro area, Giebel said.

A 3D range is one where participants walk along a course, targeting three-dimensional foam models of animals.

To help fill that need, the Highlands Ranch Community Association opened its 3D archery range in the Backcountry Wilderness Area in June 2018. The range is a mile-and-a-half loop on a natural surface trail with 28 separate shooting stations, equipped with lifelike animals as targets.

“The Backcountry range is awesome,” said Josh Bednorz of Highlands Ranch. “It’s a place where my 4-year-old son and myself can spend time together shooting and hiking the trails.”

Being a family-friendly sport is certainly one reason people get into archery, said Mike Schultz, co-owner and general manager of Empty Quiver Archery. But along with that, there are a number of other reasons people enjoy the sport, he added.

The skill-building challenge is one thing people enjoy about it, Schultz said. Anybody can go out and shoot and have fun, he added, “but it’s really hard to get good at it.”

Some people enjoy the Zen aspect of it, Schultz said, and others like the social aspect.

“It offers a getaway from whatever’s going on at home or at work,” he said, but it’s “also a great way to get involved with something and meet new people.”

Schultz has been shooting nearly his whole life — his dad got him into archery about 35 years ago — and he personally enjoys competing and the technical aspect of the sport, including how the equipment functions. But his favorite part is seeing the progress of archery students and those new to the sport.

Empty Quiver Archery in Broomfield is a 20-yard, indoor archery range with 38 lanes that focuses on recreational archery and training for competitive tournaments, from beginners to state and national champion archers. It offers classes and private instruction, as well as opportunities for people to join a variety of leagues including Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) and Black Light Archery.

“We help people get started,” Schultz said of Empty Quiver Archery. “It’s common for someone to come and not hit a target their first time, but then they stick with it and eventually start competing.”

Golden High Country Archers club is one that offers local archery tournaments on its outdoor, 13-acre range in Golden. Some of the tournaments are just for fun and competition, such as the club’s Buckle Series, and others benefit a charity, said Morgan Whitelock, public relations director for Golden High Country Archers.

The tournaments are a great way for everybody to experience the range, Whitelock said, because they are open to anybody. Normally, only club members have access to the range, she added, and there is currently a waitlist for membership.

Whitelock, 28, of Centennial got into archery because she was seeking an activity that would provide her with a sense of community after her husband passed away.

“I was welcomed with open arms,” Whitelock said, adding she has now been practicing archery for about five years. A student studying petroleum engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, Whitelock said archery has given her strength that she did not realize she had — physically, academically and professionally.

“I go to the range to keep my head screwed on straight, whether to catch up with friends or relax alone,” Whitelock said. “There’s nothing more relaxing than being outside. And as long as you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.”


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