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Archery is accessible, affordable and an Olympic sport

Mon., Aug. 25, 2008

Probably, it’s too late for your kid to become the next Shawn Johnson, the 16-year-old darling of U.S. gymnastics.

She started hitting the gym at age 3.

But it’s never too late to pick up a bow with thoughts of Olympic glory or just to learn a pastime. No one says archery has to become an obsession, a la Robin Hood or Ted Nugent.

It’s an accessible sport, available to nearly anyone.

“Kids that may have a disability of some type are able to participate,” said Jim Cowgill, past president of Spokane’s Evergreen Archery Club.

Spokane Valley Archery is the place to check out the sport. Newcomers of any age can attend a Saturday morning introductory course “that gives you the basics, like not losing your arrows, that kind of thing,” said manager Josh Jones. After that you can use the business’ indoor or outdoor ranges any month of the year, with their rental equipment or your own bow.

“We’re really busy in the winter,” Jones said.

Although the 8-year-old business initially catered almost exclusively to hunters, target-shooters now account for about half the clientele, Jones said.

If your family becomes hooked on the sport, you might consider joining the Evergreen Archery Club, which leases about 50 acres for its range near Spokane Falls Community College. If you’ve been to the Bighorn Show, you’ve seen kids lined up at the club’s booth, waiting to fling arrows at silhouette targets. The club works with schools and youth organizations to teach the basics of the sport.

It also hosts big-time competitions, including one in June that featured Victor Wunderle, who’s just completed his third Olympics.

Like fellow Olympian Johnson, Wunderle started young, first picking up a bow at age 5, according to his online autobiography. But he’s 32 and still competing.

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