Fresh off a first-place finish in an archery tournament last week, 11-year-old Owen Martin, of Puyallup, was in Spokane on Saturday getting ready for another possible victory today.
He and his father, Matt Martin, made the drive across the mountains to compete in the Evergreen Archery Club’s biggest event of the season – the first leg of a Northwest “triple crown” tournament.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Owen, who was hoping for more success Sunday among more than 200 bow shooters from five states who are expected to compete at the club’s grounds in northwest Spokane. He and his dad planned to pitch a tent at the course despite the chill in the weekend’s weather.
Archers say their sport has been growing in Spokane, partly because of a more aggressive student program in which archery is offered at seven area schools. About 150 families are enrolled in the club, with membership growing by 10 to 15 percent a year.
The sport captivates participants, much like golf, because you compete against others while improving your own skills by repeatedly hitting the bull’s-eyes, said Ed Forslof, a club leader. The thrill of the sport often comes after hitting your target several times in a row, in the same way a bowler gets a charge out of rolling a series of strikes, he said.
Archery remains popular with children.
“The club is one of the most active clubs in the national archery and school program,” said Jim Cowgill, another club leader.
Today’s tournament will double as a qualifying event for the world finals of the International Bowhunting Organization in New York in August. As many as 60 archers could qualify from the Spokane event alone, Forslof said.
The tournament offers competition in a series of classifications, including youth categories.
While many of the archers in Spokane today are also bow hunters, others pursue archery purely as a sport. One of the key skills is learning to judge distance and raising the bow to compensate for the arc of the arrow, Cowgill said.
Today, competitors will get to shoot at 40 three-dimensional targets designed to mimic animals. On Saturday, a small crowd showed up for a 10-target practice layout.
The club occupies a tract of land along Spokane’s western bluff. Part of the course is on city-owned park land and another part on adjoining land of a nearby Seventh-day Adventist Church, both of which are under lease to the club.
The club was formed in 1962 and previously operated in the Wandermere area, moving to its current site at Palisades Park in 1985.