Big Sky Open will draw top archers to GJ

Kurt Geist readies himself for a shot during the Go-For-It round at last year’s Big Sky Open. This year’s tournament begins Friday at the DoubleTree Hotel with the Go-For-It competition.

Many of the nation’s top archers along with the best of the Western Slope and surrounding states are expected for the 32nd Big Sky Open archery tournament Friday-Sunday at the DoubleTree Hotel, 743 Horizon Drive.

The three-day tournament features competitions for both professional and amateur archers shooting at multicolored targets similar to those used in the Olympic Games.

“Our shooters really like the colored, Olympic-style targets, and they give a real feeling of the world-class competition we’ll see during the Big Sky Open,” tournament co-chairperson Margaret Brabec said.

She expects many of the top names in U.S. archery to compete, including several returning champions and U.S. Archery Team members. Because a World Cup tournament is scheduled for the following week in Salt Lake City, Brabec also expects archers headed for the World Cup to compete at the Big Sky Open.

“There is so much going on out there,” Brabec said. “A lot of shooters are headed to the huge tournament in Salt Lake City, and many of them are going to hit our tournament before that one.”

Archery equipment manufacturer Easton, based in Salt Lake City, is one of the Big Sky’s sponsors and also the main host for the Salt Lake City tournament.

Among the archers already registered for this year’s Big Sky Open are long-time favorites and former Big Sky champions Frank and Becky Pearson of Tucson, Ariz., who are returning to Grand Junction after a three-year hiatus.

Other returning champions include Bill Pellegrino of Colorado Springs, Rhonda Calhoun of Early, Texas, and the father-son team of Dee and Logan Wilde of Provo, Utah.

Among the rising stars to watch will be Braden Gellenthian of Woodbridge, Va. A member of the Mathews Inc. pro staff, Gellenthian has been a pro shooter for eight years and holds the world record in 12-arrow matches with a score of 1,197 out of a possible 1,200.

Brabec and her husband, Jerry, have fostered the tournament since its beginning in 1974 in Billings, Mont. The tournament has been in Grand Junction since 1975.

Among the features the Brabecs have adopted is the V-format of shooting, where archers shoot at targets ranging from 20 to 65 yards. It gives the archers an added challenge and is viewer-friendly for those watching the action.

The Big Sky Open is one of the few major tournaments held outside on the grounds of a major hotel. Being outdoors tests the skill and persistence of shooters as they sometimes battle wind, rain and the heat of summer.

The competition begins Friday evening with an open-to-all, just-for-fun event called the “Go-For-It,” where archers shoot at 4-inch clay targets. In 31 years only 10 perfect scores have been recorded in this event.

The first two rounds of individual competition are set for Saturday, with the finals Sunday.

All events are free, including the extensive dealer and equipment exhibition inside the hotel.

For more information about participating or viewing, see the Big Sky Open website at or call 970-243-1319.


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