Archery is more than how Katniss Everdeen won the Hunger Games.
That’s what the archer wants it to be – friendly competition; a therapeutic outlet for his frustration; stimulating physical exercise; a mental game; a way of hunting; a way to make friends; a discipline; a talent; a sport; and much more.
Adrian Evangelista, a resident of the Littleton area, said shooting daily at Bear Creek Archery in unincorporated Arapahoe County near Englewood was a way out of the house.
“(Archery) teaches you to deal with your frustration… and to learn from your mistakes,” he said. “… Life could be boring without sports.
As the weather cools and the days grow shorter, many archers have moved indoors for the target shooting and tournament season, which runs through March.
Archery in general has become more common in recent years, and its popularity has increased during the pandemic as it is a “COVID-friendly” activity, said Dave Marsh, owner of Bear Creek Archery.
Kevin Lewis, owner of Quick Draw Archery at Highlands Ranch, said the sport generally sees an increase in interest after the Summer Olympics. But, Hollywood is also responsible for the growing popularity of archery, especially among girls.
After the release of the 2012 movie “The Hunger Games”, Lewis said that everyone wanted to be like Katniss. He also wondered if Disney’s upcoming “Hawkeye” TV show would also spark interest in the sport.
Evangelista, who started archery in 2013, recommended people to try it at least once, saying, “If you like it, you like it.”
Turn to indoor competitions
At this time of year, Lewis said the indoor stands see a mix of people doing it for fun, kids learning the sport and archers training for tournaments.
For a serious archer, he says, indoor and outdoor archery are two completely different games. There are more options outside, including hunting and 3D target courses; but indoor also has its own world of events and specialists, explained Lewis.
Dave Cenedella, a resident of the coniferous region, said he and his wife are planning to compete in the league on Thursday night at Bear Creek Archery.
Cenedella, who has been practicing archery for six years, said he enjoys archery hunting and shooting in his backyard. Like rifle shooting, archery requires autonomy, he continued, but it doesn’t impact hearing like rifle shooting does.
“It’s super tough,” Cenedella said of archery. “There are so many variables and you have to do everything the same every time. “
Right now, Colorado’s top archers are gearing up for the February Vegas Shoot, the annual indoor “Super Bowl of archery” in Las Vegas.
Chris Treloar of Castle Rock, a staff shooter at Quick Draw Archery, said the tournament world is a lot of fun. He has competed in indoor and outdoor competitions, winning several across Colorado.
Treloar also loves the ritualistic side of archery. The state has a huge archery community, with lots of shops and organizations, so there’s something going on every night, he said.
Shooter Rick Typher, who lives in Highlands Ranch, appreciates how therapeutic archery is and how much of a mental game, saying, “It’s a battle against yourself.”
Whether archers have only recently started shooting or have been practicing it for years, local indoor stands have something for everyone, including private lessons and classes for all levels of experience.
Many praise recurve bows, which are generally easier to shoot but more difficult to hold, explained local professional archer Steve Marsh. Meanwhile, compound bows are individualized and end up being harder to shoot but easier to hold, he said.
“You can’t expect to master (archery) overnight,” he said.
Marsh, who works at Bear Creek Archery and shoots for Team Matthews Archery, described how he started archery at age 8, but only became proficient at 20.
Ben Hartford of Littleton and his 14-year-old son Nathan started archery earlier this fall. Ben used to do this at camp and revisited it when his cousin offered him a bow. Since then, he and Nathan have been practicing aiming their targets.
“It’s a skill,” Hartford continued. “The more you do it, the better you get.”
Isaac Smith, a Highlands Ranch student, started five or six years ago and has described it as a fun hobby that he revisits whenever he can. He enjoys indoor and outdoor archery and enjoys setting up makeshift stands whenever he goes camping.
“It can be relaxing if you don’t stress about it,” he said.
Madison Myles, who lives in the Parker area and started archery at the age of 10, also has an outdoor shooting range at home and tries to shoot at least once a week.
“I love the joy – the adrenaline rush,” she said. “It’s funny. Try it.