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Weekend archery festival gets kids engaged in low-tech outdoor activity

June 11, 2018 GMT

POYNETTE — Kids can be drawn in to new activities that have nothing to do with technology, as proved this weekend at the MacKenzie Center where product innovations involved levers and pulleys.

“It’s a three-day shoot,” said Pope and Young Club Vice President Rick Krueger. “It’s sort of like a carnival centered around bows and arrows.”

This narrowly aimed carnival took over the MacKenzie Center from Friday through Sunday, the second of a bi-annual event, held in Poynette every other year.

In the field next to the MacKenzie Center lodge a massive tent provided shade and weather-proofing to hundreds of bows, arrows, and other archery accessories. Feeding the crowd for the weekend were area vendors with their own tents popped along a food court row.

Along the edge of the field and farther down the road volunteers set up targets of the traditional circular variety, and in other places artificial animals, and elsewhere, a skeet-shooting machine provided moving targets.

A couple running the skeet station kept participants in line and organized, waiting for a call of “pull,” at which point an orange target, like a foam dinner place, would come rolling out of the machine and into the air, chased by a volley of arrows.

One Poynette man shooting at the time had been hitting about half, while a man before him about a third, and a 7-year-old boy was trying again having hit one on his first try the day before.

“So it’s amazing, and these kids are pretty good too,” said volunteer John Blackall who came with his wife from Fort Worth, Texas. “It’s a good activity for kids because these disks are like Nerf, and they fly almost like a pheasant when they peak, just like in little league, you watch for a fly ball and you wait for it to peak to get under it.”

Shooters aiming at stationary targets much farther away would be using compound bows, lining up pins marking 20, 30, and 40 yards, while the skeet shooters used “primitive” recurve bows. “That is what they are good at — the instinctive shoot,” said Blackall.

Meanwhile, Will Bredeson, of Poynette, was helping his 5-year-old daughter take a solid stance and line up her shot with a bow made from a piece of PVC pipe and tape. For Blackall, it was his first introduction to Wisconsin, happening upon a weekend of pleasant temperatures, light breezes and clear blue sky.

The day before he had tried bow-and-arrow fishing for the first time, gliding over shallow water, wearing polarized glasses to better see the fish, looking for buffalo carp. Although he didn’t get one, he said that is wife did.

“Pope and Young is a great organization for kids and getting them into archery, and then also teaching them ethical sportsmanship and conservation,” said Blackall. “So this is what it is all about, bringing these kids in and teaching them something they can do in their backyard. It’s not like firearms or shooting — not that I have anything against that — it’s just that this is a lot more challenging and interesting.”