Evidence abounds that Payson is becoming the archery capital of small town Arizona.
The proof exists in the new archery shop — Chasin’ a Dream — that just opened on Beeline; the onset of the National Archery in Schools program last fall; the large number of Rim Country hunters who apply for archery tags; the archery shoots retired law enforcement officer Les Conner has jump-started; the proposed “Explore Bowhunting” program to be offered in the fall; and a family 3-D shoot, called “Shoot for the Rim” to be held tomorrow, July 17, at the Tonto Rim Sports Club Jim Jones Shooting Range.
The shoot is being sponsored for the first time ever by the Town of Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department as well as TRSC.
Even the Mogollon Sporting Association has jumped into the archery act, purchasing 14 new 3-D targets for tomorrow’s competition.
Town Trails and Outdoor Recreation Coordinator Mary McMullen calls tomorrow’s tournament, a “new and exciting outdoor recreation program” and says the new sponsors are “eager to put this and future archery tournaments on in our community to offer more opportunities for youth in Payson to shoot their bows.”
Conner hopes that the tournament attracts the younger set saying new shooters are the key to the future of archery.
“We need those young ones — it’s vital,” he said.
McMullen also says the MSA’s purchase of the new 3-D targets will “enable us to offer two different, 14-target courses for the one-day tournament.”
Newcomers will find the tournament unique in that archers, instead of shooting stationary at bull’s-eye targets, walk an outdoor course firing arrows at McKenzie life-sized 3-D foam targets of bear, deer and mountain lions.
3-D archery is a spinoff of field archery that is popular among hunters because it re-creates a hunting environment with competitors shooting from unmarked distances.
For the upcoming tournament, participants will compete in one of four age groups and in four separate classes based on bow types and sight.
The age groups are: Adult (18-years-plus), Youth (14-17 years), Cub (9-13 years) and Pee Wee (8 and under).
The classes include:
• Open — Archers may use any bow, sight or stabilizer.
• Release — Entrants can use any bow but with fixed pins, no scopes, 12-inch maximum stabilizers and any release.
• Fingers — Requirements include any bows, fixed pins, no scopes, 12-inch maximum stabilizers and shooting with fingers.
• Traditional — Any recurve or longbow with no sights.
Registration fees are $15 for adults, $10 for youth, $25 per family and shooters under 14 years are free.
On the day of the tournament, registration opens at 7 a.m. and scores must be turned in by 2 p.m.
McMullen is hoping the youngsters who participated in past National Archery in the Schools programs take advantage of this new tournament opportunity to practice in the field what they learned indoors.
Conner’s commitment to children learning the sport prompted him to take the training qualifying him as a schools archery instructor.
The last 3-D shoot to be held at TRSC, which was before the new sponsors joined in, was held Aug. 9, 2009. That event had 26 adults and 15 children participating — the largest turnout in the two years Conner has sponsored the shoots.
For more information, call Conner at (928) 472-7443. Registration forms are available at: www.paysonparks.com.