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SKILL TEST: Ron Babcock of La Grande fires at a target during the Lehman Hot Springs Super Shoot 3D archery tournament on Sunday. Archers Trevor Moles, left, of Spokane, Wash., and John Appleton of La Grande are examining the target Babcock is firing at. (Observer photos/DICK MASON).
SKILL TEST: Ron Babcock of La Grande fires at a target during the Lehman Hot Springs Super Shoot 3D archery tournament on Sunday. Archers Trevor Moles, left, of Spokane, Wash., and John Appleton of La Grande are examining the target Babcock is firing at. (Observer photos/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer staff writer

Caribou, which travel in large herds in Canada and Siberia, are not stealth-like creatures.

Last weekend though, a caribou near Lehman Hot Springs eluded some of the best archers in the Northwest.

The animal was actually a Styrofoam model of a caribou at the Lehman Hot Springs Super Shoot 3D archery tournament. The target was one of about 12 at the tournament that had small money spot targets. Those who hit them could win up to $300.

None of the 250 archers at the tournament hit the caribous money target Saturday. On Sunday just one archer nailed the target.

Adult archers had to shoot at the target from 50 yards, which was a greater distance than most of the other targets, said Ron Babcock of La Grande. Babcock is a member of the Grande Ronde Bowmen, which put on the tournament along with the Elkhorn Archers of Baker City.

Babcock and the other archers who completed the course fired at 50 3D targets Saturday and 30 on Sunday.

Mike Slinkard of John Day, who competes at archery tournaments throughout the state, believes the Lehman course may have more targets than any in Oregon.

I think it is the biggest course in the state, Slinkard said.

In addition to caribou, the course had 3D replicas of lions, hyenas, gazelles, buffalo, gazelle, coyotes, bears, goats, white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, an alligator, turkeys and other wildlife.

Turkeys traditionally are among the hardest targets to hit and this held true last weekend.

If youve been going to these shoots for awhile, turkeys can get intimidating, said Chuck Moles of Spokane.

Archers were particularly careful with targets that had an open area behind them. Competitors knew that if they missed these targets completely they might not be able to find their arrows.

The four-person party Moles was with lost three arrows by overshooting targets.

We donated three to the arrow Gods, Moles said.

There were about 12 money spots on the course. Each small orange dot was worth about $300. Winnings were divided by the number of people who hit the target. For example, if six people hit a money target they each received $50.

People of all ages could win cash by hitting money spots. One 7-year-old won $150 and a 10-year-old collected $75, said Norm Paullus, the Grande Ronde Bowmens vice president.

Younger archers fired at targets from shorter distances than adults. There were separate distances marked for those ages 13-17, 9-12 and 0-8.

Archers competed in the tournament for a number of reasons. Some were there to fine-tune their skills for the upcoming International Bowhunter Organization world championship tournament near Snowshoe, W.Va.

Paullus said that one person told him that the Lehman Hot Springs course was as difficult and as good as the courses at the world championships.

People came from throughout the Northwest to participate at Lehman Springs. One archer was from Missouri. He had arranged to be working in The Dalles in late July so he could easily travel to the tournament.

The Missouri man told Paullus he came to the Lehman shoot because he was impressed with how the Grande Ronde Bowmen had put on an International Bowhunters Organization tournament earlier this spring.

The Grande Ronde Bowmen and the Elkhorn Archers put on last weekends tournament at Lehman Hot Springs because their members want to promote family activities.

Paullus said Lehman provides a variety of recreational opportunities.

Non-shooters could have a good time, Paullus said.

Those who brought children to the tournament included Al Sculthorpe of Baker City. He participated in the tournament with his children, Heather, 7, and Steven, 10. Heather hit a money spot on Saturday, giving the Sculthorpes reason to celebrate Saturday night. They had hamburgers for dinner and then went for a swim at Lehman Hot Springs.

This is a good family sport, Al Sculthorpe said. I wish I had started when I was their (his childrens) age.

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