Taking aim: Summit’s 4-H archery program fosters new hobby, helps archery community grow
While growing up, there is sometimes nothing more important than getting involved in something that you are passionate about. Whether it be a team sport, activity or game, adolescents can oftentimes learn valuable life lessons when they participate in these programs.
One such enterprise within Summit County that has worked for over the last 20 years to shape the next generation of adults is the Summit County 4-H archery program. Every summer, kids ages 8- to 18-years-old get the opportunity to learn about themselves through the sport of archery.
This season, the program met at the Summit County Archery Range throughout the summer with mostly young kids participating biweekly.
Once at the the archery range, located off of U.S. Highway 6 south of Dillon, Dr. Ed Hastain personally instructs his young group of arrow slingers as they set their sights on their target.
On Monday, Aug. 8, children involved in the program participated in their final 4-H archery gathering of the summer. Under mostly sunny and bluebird skies, arrows zinged left and right from the firing line of participants. Once everyone had shot, Hastain blew his whistle announcing it was safe for the kids to retrieve their arrows to fire again.
In between sending off arrows, Hastain gives pointers to the participants, instructing them how to tweak their shot in order to hit a certain spot on the target.
“What we are doing here is getting them involved with archery,” Hastain said. “We are teaching them how to shoot. We are teaching them safety and some responsibility. We are seeing kids that basically couldn’t hit the target when they started and are now shooting really well.”
To Hastain, who has been helping out with the 4-H archery program for over 20 years, archery helps kids to learn new skills and meet new people.
“Anything a kid can do to develop some confidence and have a good time, be outside while not being on a computer game or video game,” Hastain said. “Most of these kids have become good buddies over the course of the summer and have become a group of friends. It is something these kids can do going forward.”
In addition to the Summit County 4-H program, the Summit County Archery Range also hosts camps and a 3D league put on by C&K Archery in Frisco throughout the summer.
“It’s a good outdoor hobby,” Ken Borlie with Summit County Resource Allocation Park said. “It’s basic fundamentals, whether they want to keep target shooting or go hunting some day.”
Not only does the Summit County Archery Range offer an opportunity for young kids to get introduced to the sport, it also allows adults to hone their archery skills.
The archery range, which is on landfill land and overseen by the Summit Range Association, is hoping to grow the shooting sport community within Summit County. Having a 4-H archery program is a strong first step.
“We want to make it more user friendly and free to the public,” Borlie said of the archery and shooting range in Summit.
The archery range has existed for close to 14 years, but it has only been recently that the range has grown in size and variety. In large part due to grant money provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Friends of the National Rifle Association, the Summit County Archery Range has been outfitted with lifelike 3D targets.
The addition of the 3D targets helps to further push the popularity of the sport within Summit County and bring interest to the activity.
“It’s grown tenfold since I started helping with the range,” Borlie said. “You come drive down the highway now and you always see cars here. You can tell there is someone always shooting here now.”
Those who have used the archery range are encouraged to donate money in the donation box located on the premises. The Summit Range Association will utilize any money given in order to continue to enhance the experience visitors can have at the range.
To donate to the range over the phone, people can call the Summit County Resource Allocation Park at 970-668-4290 and ask for Borlie or Aaron Byrne.
“We have good local support with good partnerships and everybody keeps chipping in,” Byrne said. “It’s here to stay and we are willing to put more into it so that we can have our youth come up and practice, 4-H kids, and just recreational users coming out to enjoy the range.”