Letting it fly: Archers find their own aims, outlets on indoor ranges

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Archery is more than how Katniss Everdeen won the Hunger Games.

It’s whatever the archer wants it to be — a friendly competition; a therapeutic outlet for one’s frustration; a challenging, physical exercise; a mental game; a way to hunt; a way to make friends; a discipline; a skill; a sport; and much more.

Littleton-area resident Adrian Evangelista said shooting every day at Bear Creek Archery, in unincorporated Arapahoe County near Englewood, is a way to get out of the house.

“(Archery) teaches you how to manage your frustration … and learn from your mistakes,” he said. “ … Life could be boring without sports.”

As the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, many archers have moved indoors for target-shooting and tournament season, which runs until March.

Archery in general has become more mainstream in recent years, and its popularity has grown during the pandemic because it’s a “COVID friendly” activity, Bear Creek Archery owner Dave Marsh said.

Kevin Lewis, who owns Quick Draw Archery in Highlands Ranch, said the sport usually sees an uptick in interest after the Summer Olympics. But, Hollywood is also responsible for archery’s increasing popularity, especially among girls.

After 2012’s “The Hunger Games” movie came out, Lewis said everybody wanted to be like Katniss. He also wondered whether Disney’s upcoming “Hawkeye” TV show will likewise generate interest in the sport.

Evangelista, who started archery in 2013, recommended people give it a shot at least once, saying, “If you like it, you like it.”

Setting their sights on indoor competitions

This time of year, Lewis said indoor ranges see a mix of people doing it for fun, children learning the sport, and archers practicing for tournaments.

For a serious archer, he said, indoor and outdoor archery are two completely different games. There are more options outdoors, including hunting and 3D target courses; but indoor has its own world of events and specialists too, Lewis explained.

Conifer-area resident Dave Cenedella said he and his wife plan to compete in the Thursday night league at Bear Creek Archery.

Cenedella, who’s been practicing archery for six years, said he enjoys bow-hunting and shooting in his backyard range. Like rifle-shooting, archery requires self-reliance, he continued, but it doesn’t impact one’s hearing like rifle-shooting does.

“It’s super-challenging,” Cenedella said of archery. “There are so many variables, and you have to do everything the same way every time.”

Right now, Colorado’s best archers are preparing for this February’s Vegas Shoot, the annual indoor “Super Bowl of archery” in Las Vegas.

Castle Rock’s Chris Treloar, a staff shooter at Quick Draw Archery, said the tournament world is a lot of fun. He’s competed in indoor and outdoor competitions, winning several across Colorado.

Treloar also enjoys 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.

Fellow staff shooter Rick Typher, who lives in Highlands Ranch, appreciates how archery is therapeutic and a mental game, stating, “It’s a battle against yourself.”

Un-bow-lievable fun

Whether archers only recently started shooting or have been practicing it for years, local indoor ranges have something for everyone, including private lessons and classes for all experience levels.

Many rent out recurve bows, which are generally easier to draw but harder to hold, local professional archer Steve Marsh explained. Meanwhile, compound bows are individualized and end up being harder to draw 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 the Matthews Archery team, described how he started archery at age 8 but didn’t become proficient until he was 20.

Littleton’s Ben Hartford and his son Nathan, 14, started archery earlier this fall. Ben used to do it at camp, and revisited it when his cousin gifted him a bow. Since then, he and Nathan have been practicing how to sight their targets.

“It’s a skill,” Hartford continued. “The more you do it, the better you get.”

Isaac Smith, a college student from Highlands Ranch, started five or six years ago and described it a fun hobby that he revisits whenever he can. He enjoys both indoor and outdoor archery, and likes setting up makeshift ranges 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 when she was 10, also has an outdoor range at home and tries to shoot at least once a week.

“I like the joy of it — the adrenaline rush,” she said. “It’s fun. Just try it out.”

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