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They came in all sizes and ability levels, saw 10 weeks of non-competitive archery involvement and conquered all kinds of bow-shooting accomplishments.

Youngsters ages 6 to 16 sign up each year for a Double T Archery Club Youth Program, a 10-week event held Wednesdays at the club’s 50-acre woodland setting on French Road in Amherst.

This year, the program signed up 91 youths and participation was solid through the 10 weeks of instruction that ended Aug. 14. The club has in place two field courses and a 3-D course. Seven lanes offer target ranges from 15 feet to 80 yards.

Youths are either provided archery gear or they can bring their own to use during instruction. Cy Powenski, club president, stressed, “We want to make sure that kids at all skill levels can come and get in on the program.”

One parent, a club member with much archery experience and instruction skills, brought a 4-year-old for some sessions during the program.

While gatherings were keyed to participation and not competition, and no scores were kept of each week’s shooting, Double T staffers had a good hands-on gauge of shooting improvement as the weeks progressed.

“As instruction continued, and the kids’ shooting got better, we were pulling fewer arrows out of the bush,” said event coordinator Mike Annunziato.

Many of the youths at very young ages joined this year’s event as veteran shooters in this program. The Felong family, Aaron, 10, Garrett, 8, and Emily, 12, all attended the 2012 program and returned to accept their Certificate of Achievement and souvenir/keepsake for 2013.

In all, 72 of the 91 signees arrived for the Wednesday evening awards picnic at the club. After a lavish pot-luck dinner club families provided attendees, Annunziato presented each participant with awards and thanked the many club volunteers who worked this evening and during the youth program, Mark and Cindy Moslow and Ian and Michelle Foley.

The program began in 1992 and has been held each year starting in June, according to instructor Harry Schotmiller, son of the program’s late founder, Joe Schotmiller.

Harry recalled that his dad began the program as a youth competition with scorekeeping and top-shooter trophies presented, “But it gradually became an effort to interest kids in just getting out and trying archery,” he said.

As the program progresses, instructors in each group see how skills and understanding develop and work at the level of the group. Outcomes for each group differ, but the main object is to further involvement in archery shooting.

Archery shoots

Bow shoots abound for area archers in coming weeks.

Hawkeye Bowmen at 13300 Clinton St. in Marilla will hold its Labor Day Shoot from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 2. The kitchen opens for breakfast at 6 a.m. and lunch service later that morning.

Hawkeye focuses on traditional archery gear and shooting, but the Labor Day shoot is open to all archery gear except crossbows. For details and directions to the club, call Phil Fleck at 998-4857.

Double T holds two shoots in September. During the youth event, Mark Moslow announced the club’s Annual Zombie Shoot set for Sept. 7. “Some shooters arrive in costume to add to the mood,” Moslow said to describe the early-fall theme of this shoot. For details on this event, check with Moslow at 693-0331.

For bow shooters with strong hunt interests, Double T’s Annual Harvest Shoot offers all kinds of shooting options. The event goes from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 14 and 15. The kitchen opens at 6 a.m. for breakfast and lunch will be served both days of the shoot.

For starters, the club has ranges set up for sighting in bows at distances of 10 to 50 yards at varying intervals. Once arrows are hitting the target with some consistency, shooters can continue practicing on a 3-D course set with 30 targets. A Saturday night Raccoon Shoot starts at dusk on the club’s lighted shooting ranges.

The cost is $10 a day or $15 for both days. Kids ages 13 and younger shoot for $3 with an adult. Primitive camping on club grounds is available to all, but reservations must be made prior to the Harvest Shoot weekend. To reserve a site, get directions or details on club shoots, call 913-5478 or 693-0331 or go to doubletarchery.com.

Bow seasons startups

Big-game archery season usually started after Columbus Day. New regulations now set the start at Oct. 1. Bow shooters have to prepare earlier in the season. Equipment as well as shooting skills must be in tune in time for the opener.

Roy Hryckowian at Nick’s Sporting Goods on Kenmore Avenue said, “The earlier season hasn’t changed things much. Things used to start picking up in July; now they come in even before then.”

Brian Steadman at S&S Taxidermy in Springville has seen a steady influx of bow shooters since early August.

“The early bow season doesn’t get bow shooters moving as much as a couple cool nights at the end of the summer,” Steadman said.

Both Hryckowian and Steadman have seen increased bow shooting and hunting interest in recent years. Hyrckowian credits the good hunting and added novices to hunt ranks. Stedman thinks added regulations to gun hunting might be a possible boost to archery-hunt interest.

With a mild winter and good spring growing conditions, observers have seen the survival of young and mature, trophy-class deer so far this season, and the prospects for a good archery season.

email: odrswill@gmail.com