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As the winter turns moldy with the green of spring, snow bound bowhunters emerge from the warm security of their lair. The confinement of the cold season has the hardcore archers ready to start flinging arrows. Spring offers Wild Turkey hunting, the Canadian spring bear season and bow fishing, of course, but it also marks the beginning of the 3-D target tournament season.
Now for those of you that have never participated in a 3-D archery tournament, we think it only fair that you be clued in on exactly what you have been missing. This sport, oddly enough, may be compared to golf. There are many similarities between golf and 3-D archery. Both activities are outdoor pastimes, which take place on large tracts of land called courses. Both courses are usually divided into halves, which begin and end at a central location.
A golf course, however, is usually manicured to perfection. It will have finely mowed fairways and well thought out landscaping. A 3-D course will be wild with most of the course in heavy woods. Its fairways will consist of marked trails through dense trees and brush.
The object of each sport is to launch a projectile at a target while keeping score of the obtained results. In golf, the participant hammers a little white ball with a club at a hole in the ground. In 3-D archery, the participant propels a little stick with feathers at a Styrofoam target shaped like a wild animal.
He or she uses a string that has been connected to a bent staff, which is made of either natural or synthetic materials. In golf, the objective is to get the lowest score, but in 3-D archery, one strives for the highest score. If you get a perfect score in golf, you have shot par and are a “scratch golfer”.
If you get a perfect score in 3-D archery, you have shot par and are a “staff shooter” for a major bow company. Both sports have participants who consistently shoot perfect rounds. Both also have duffers that shoot purely for the fun of it.
In golf, the course always consists of a nine-hole round with a full round being 18 holes. A 3-D course can have as many as 50 targets. In golf, you keep score by counting the number of times it takes to hit your ball it into the hole. The contestant must keep hitting the ball until he is in the hole. In 3-D you score’s based on how close you came to the bull’s-eye.
The number of shots that you can take, however, is limited. The equipment for golf is carried in a “golf bag” that is toted around the course by a shoulder strap. 3-D equipment is carried in a “quiver” and is usually strapped to the waist with a heavy belt (pewter belt buckle of a buck jumping over a log is optional).
The equipment is both cases can be very spendy. Start up for either sport can be accomplished for around $500. As the participants get more involved with the sport, however, the need for accessories will increase. Once necessary and optional equipment has been purchased, the main expense will be the purchase of additional projectiles. Contestants in both sports, unfortunately lose a lot of projectiles, especially those in the “duffer” class.
Both sports have a tendency to experience congestion on the course. The reason - people searching for lost projectiles! Due to the high cost of this equipment, much time is spent hunting for it. In both sports, it is a common practice to allow others to “play-through” while you are looking for lost projectiles.
The cost to shoot a round of golf is comparable to the cost of a round of 3-D archer, perhaps a little more. The golf course does give breaks for all day green fees, however, while the 3-D tournament (because it is a tournament) must charge the same rate for each round. Both sports provide the outdoors person with plenty of exercise and healthy fresh air. Both sports are tremendous family activities and can be shared with all ages.
It is my hope that if you love the bow and arrow and have never shot a 3-D archery tournament, you will consider doing so, this year. It is a challenging and entertaining way to spend some quality time with family and friends. Perhaps best of all however, it keeps you finely in tuned and one with your archery equipment.