Strong winds greet archers

Pewter-colored skies and winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour greeted archers Friday on the first night of the Big Sky Open archery tournament.

But, hey, what’s a little wind storm among friends?

“This is nothing, you should have seen it in Mesquite,” offered Big Sky co-founder Jerry Brabec as he tightened the canvas on the covered wagon the tournament uses as the announcer’s booth.

Brabec and his wife, Margaret, also run an archery tournament each November in Mesquite, Nev., and last year’s tournament was one to remember, Brabec said.

“We had 55 mile an hour winds and it got so you couldn’t hardly stand up,” said Brabec, an affable, barrel-chested figure who’s in no danger of blowing away in anything short of a tornado.

His son, Randy Brabec, one of the nation’s top finger-release archers and winner of the Big Sky Open’s men’s Freestyle Limited division the past three years, was out among the targets repairing hay bales blown over by the heavy winds.

“There’s really nothing you can do about the wind,” said Randy, hefting a portable drill
instead of the Martin compound bow he usually carries. “You just take the 21/2 minutes (time allotted between shots) and hope for a calm spot.”

The National Weather Service had forecast the winds and possible rain showers for late Friday as a cold front moved into the Grand Valley from the southwest. Conditions for today and Sunday should improve for the 8:30 a.m. starting time.

Part of the challenge of shooting outdoors is learning to handle the weather,, said Reo Wilde of Pocatello, Idaho. He and Cousins of Standish, Maine, also at this year’s Big Sky Open, spent last weekend in the heat and humidity of Conyers, Ga., snagging spots on the USA Archery World Outdoor Team Trials for the World Championships later this year in Korea.

“When it’s windy like this, all you can do is be aggressive and hope for the best,” Wilde said.

Cousins watched from inside the hotel as the western horizon grew successively darker.

“Probably the best thing to shoot in these conditions is a 12-gauge,” he said with a grin. “At least you might hit the target.”

Well, maybe in Grand Junction but wait until next week, when the tournament trail takes many of these same archers to Yankton, S.D.

“Boys, we’re going to be in Yankton in the heart of the tornado season,” announced Jerry Brabec as he eyed the coming storm. “And Yankton is right at the top of the tornado alley. It’s going to be fun.”

Today’s Big Sky Open events include the individual competition on colorful Olympic-style targets. Shooters begin at 8:30 a.m. and should finish around 3.


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