With a traditional longbow in hand, Kenai resident John Lindgren felt like a kid again walking through the woods target shooting during a two-day archery tournament in Soldotna over the Fourth of July weekend.
His form slow and deliberate, Lindgren placed a carbon arrow on the string and pulled back and held for several seconds to line up his shot before he fired a strike through a bull moose that stood 40 yards away. If the moose weren’t a life-size foam 3-D target, it would have been a kill shot, struck in a vital artery.
“It’s a fun sport similar to playing a round of golf except you walk through the woods and shoot arrows at targets,” Lindgren said.
Lindgren was one of 76 archers from around the state that competed in the annual Independence Day Marked 3-D Archery Shoot Saturday and Sunday, hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Archery Club at its 53-acre range in Soldotna.
Club treasurer Steven Latz said the Independence Day Shoot is the biggest and most popular in the state. It attracts both the competitive archers and the casual recreationalists with men, women and kids all taking part.
“A lot of the same families come year after year,” he said. “Everyone likes shooting the 3-D targets because it’s good practice for hunting. We have a quality event.”
Dave Perry and his family from Wasilla have been coming to the tournament for the last nine years. Dave Perry and his son Ken each placed second in their respective adult divisions while Ken’s son Owen won the boys cub division.
“It’s a great family sport,” Ken Perry said. “We always look forward to camping here and spending time with people who share our interests.”
A distinct path through wooded areas guided archers to the target stations. One station included a hill formed by glacial deposits, nicknamed the “rock shot.”
Each participant shot two arrows from separate marked distances at 45 targets during the tournament. Archers shot at 30 targets Saturday then another 15 targets Sunday. The course has 30 3-D Alaskan animals from Dahl sheep, caribou, deer, bear and moose. The animals have a faint outline of the vital organs for scoring.
Latz said the 3-D moose made by Rinehart cost $1,800. When the target area gets too beat up from arrows, the insert can be replaced, he said.
Points are awarded based on where the shot hits and ranged from 12, 10, 8 and 5 points. The heart is outlined with a ring and a shot inside that line is 12 points, while the lung and liver shot is worth eight points. A body shot is five points. Two archers in each group tallied their scores.
Malmquist said the targets are made from foam and provide a realistic simulation of what archers could expect in a real life situation.
“I like being in the woods with the animal,” Malmquist said. “It is a lot more fun and (bow) takes a certain skill for hunting.”
Rob Swanson from Anchorage said he has been coming to the tournament the last three years. He said he enjoys the tournament for the 3-D targets because it adds a realistic element to hunting.
“All winter I shoot indoors at dot targets,” Swanson said. “Here this gives you the same type of site like hunting. It keeps you sharp.”
Swanson used both a target bow and compound-hunting bow. He said they both require a different skill set.
Sterling resident Larry Larson said he likes the challenge that comes with a traditional re-curve bow.
“Look at the target focus on it get in the right state of mind and let your subconscious do the shooting,” he said. “(With a traditional bow) you have to have good form and not think too much because that is when you start to make mistakes. You are always striving for a better shot each time. There is always another level to achieve.”
When Lindgren was a kid growing up in New Jersey, his dad took him to competitive shoots every weekend. As the archery sport has developed with more mechanical compound bows with release aids, he still likes to keep it simple.
“With longbow you don’t need sights and stabilizers, just a stick and string,” he said.
Lindgren won the men’s traditional bow division for the third time in four years. He scored 453 points in the first day and 217 points on Sunday for a total of 670 points. Larson finished second in the division with 628 points. A couple years ago, Lindgren, 60, had both hips replaced, which makes his success all the more impressive, Larson said.
Lindgren has been shooting competitively for years and holds 23 state field records he said.
John Bamburg from Wasilla scored the 1018 in the freestyle division with a compound bow, the most points in the tournament. Randy Spray from Phoenix, Arizona, placed first in the silver senior freestyle division with 981 points. Sarah Taster placed first in the girl cub division.
The tournament is part of competitions within the Alaska State Archery Association. Gold, silver and bronze metals were handed out to the top three placers in each division. The archery club awarded each winner with a wooden arrow and provided lunch and dinner. Sportsman’s Warehouse co-hosted the event and raffled off prizes.
After archers completed the course on Sunday, scores were tallied while kids competed in fun shoots like trying to hit a moving target.
James and Tasha Cook came from Palmer so their daughters Kira, 10 and Lena, 8, could participate in the tournament for the first time. Kira, said she had a lot of fun and saw herself improve a lot on the second day. Lena, used a traditional bow because she said it is lighter.
Malmquist said archery is great for the whole family and members of the club are available to teach newcomers Saturday mornings at the range.
“Any kid can do archery,” Malmquist said. “It teaches them hand-eye coordination and younger archers are more coordinated as a result of participating in this sport.”