Archery club welcomes families, new members
One of western Colorado’s oldest archery clubs was born from an argument.
During a recent snowy day, several members of the Grand Mesa Bowmen could be found building targets for the new archery range at Gene Taylor’s Sporting Goods. During a break in the action, long-time archer Jim Law reminisced on some of the club’s history.
“It started, I think, in 1963 or ‘64. Let me call and see,” Law said, pulling out a cell phone and dialing his wife, Ellen, who also is an archer as well as the club’s secretary. “It was 1964? Thanks, that’s all I needed.”
Law sat back and smiled at the memory.
“It really got started after there was an argument among some members of an existing archery club, and a few people decided to start their own,” said Law, a retired school administrator. “We’re still here and that other club no longer exists.”
He joined the Grand Mesa Bowmen a “few years” after their founding.
“And I’ve been there ever since,” he said. “It’s a wonderful club, and you won’t find better people.”
You’ve probably seen the unobtrusive sign that marks the club’s shooting range on DS Road on Glade Park, just south of the Colorado National Monument border.
Turn at the gate, go up a narrow road and you’ll find the club has several different archery ranges on the 40 acres it leases from the Bureau of Land Management.
According to the club brochure, which is available at archery and sporting goods stores around the valley, there are two sight-in ranges, a 3-D target range with 15 targets, two silhouette ranges and a bull’s-eye target range.
“The range is open, and you’ll find someone up there 365 days a year,” Law said.
Even on a blustery, snowy day in January?
“Even in the snow,” he said. He pointed to where the other three club members were tackling a large target. “I think Tony was up there shooting this morning.”
Tony Chiaro, the current club president and at that moment wearing a carpenter’s belt and carrying a power drill instead of a quiver filled with arrows and his compound bow, nodded in agreement.
“I was up there early this morning,” he said. “It probably has the best vantage point in the valley to watch the sun come up.”
Chiaro called the isolated range “a protected area for wildlife” and said it’s not unusual to hear and see many kinds of wildlife.
“Oh, there’s the occasional car, but most of the time all you’ll hear are the sounds of the birds and, maybe, when the season is right, the chuckle of an elk moving off into the woods,” he said.
“Members have seen bobcats, elk, deer, rabbits, and someone reported seeing a mountain lion up there,” he said.
In recent years, the club has grown to about 302 members, many of them families who shoot together.
“We have members from 4 years old to 70 or 80,” Law said. “Our primary emphasis is the promotion of the sport of archery.”
Dues are kept low, $30 a year for single members and $75 for families, allowing members to spend money on more important things, such as equipment.
“It’s relatively inexpensive, especially compared to skiing or golf,” Law said. “Once you get the basic equipment, the range is there for you to use at any time.”
The club sponsors several tournaments (called “shoots”) each year, and a large contingent of Grand Mesa Bowmen always competes at the Big Sky Open archery tournament each summer.
Perhaps one of the more popular shoots is the Share The Spirit Charity shoot each December. Entry fee is 10 cans of nonperishable food items, that are then donated to a local charity.
“We give them 500 to 800 cans of food each year,” Law said. “People really like doing that.”
Affiliations include the National Field Archery Association, the Colorado State Archery Association and the Colorado Bowhunters Association.
But you don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy the club.
“It’s a wonderful family sport,” Chiaro said, echoing similar words from Law. “It’s a sport that every member of the family can participate in.”
Dennis White, the club treasurer, has been a member for three years and said it’s common to see families shooting together.
“We’ve all really been pleased with the big increase in the number of family memberships we now have in the club,” White said. “In 2009, we had many, many families participating in the 3-D shoots at the bow range. Mom, pop, aunts, uncles and often several kids with bows all enjoying the event and archery with us.”
White also praised the club leadership, including Chiaro, vice-president Tony Mansfield and others, with emphasizing safety and making the ranges more enjoyable.
“During their tenure as the leaders of our club, it has grown and thrived as never before,” White said. “The bow range and camaraderie have really enriched my archery hobby.”
Chiaro started back to the building of targets, 10 of them for the range inside Gene Taylor’s, but then turned again to a visitor.
“I’m not much of a spiritual guy, but when you’re up there on the range, early in the morning, it’s really a spiritual kind of place,” he said. “I really think it’s the best range in the state.”
Information on the Grand Mesa Bowmen is available on the club’s Web site, http://www.familylobby.com/GrandMesaBowmen.