Super course, super scenery draw shooters

By Dick Mason, The Observer July 31, 2010 06:33 pm
Kayla Flint of Vale takes aim at a target in the warm up area before competing at the Eastern Oregon Super Shoot Sunday at Ski Anthony Lakes. Kayla’s brother, Tyler, is looking on.
Kayla Flint of Vale takes aim at a target in the warm up area before competing at the Eastern Oregon Super Shoot Sunday at Ski Anthony Lakes. Kayla’s brother, Tyler, is looking on.
Do not let the comfortable ski lift rides, breathtaking views and helpful volunteers and competitors fool you.

The annual Eastern Oregon Super Shoot at Ski Anthony Lakes can be one heck of a challenge for archers.

Just ask David Owens of Las Vegas.

“It’s the most challenging 3D course I’ve been on in the state — and I’ve been on a lot of them,’’ Owens said. “It’s difficult physically and has hard, realistic shots.’’

Owens speaks as if he finds the challenge invigorating, which is why he and his friends have returned to participate in the shoot each of the past six years.

So do many others. Many of the almost 300 who participated in last weekend’s shoot return year after year. Returnees in the past have included a man from Australia who once came three consecutive years. The Australian likely shared the opinion about the Eastern Oregon Super Shoot that Samantha Barnard of Boise, a participant last weekend, has.

“It’s awesome,’’ Barnard said.

She was preparing to board the lift at Anthony Lakes for a ride to the high point of the archery shoot area. Archers then worked their way down the mountainous area on a trail taking them to 3D Styrofoam wildlife targets. The distances were determined by their age and skill level.

Most participants rode the lift, which climbs 900 feet, twice during the two-day shoot. The lift was run a little slower at the Super Shoot than it is for skiers to make shooters not used to riding the lift feel more comfortable.

“Most bow hunters are not skiers,’’ said Mike Gooderham, a member of the Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol who helped run the lift last weekend.

Gooderham was among many members of the Anthony Lakes Ski Patrol on duty at the shoot. Patrol members were prepared to treat medical emergencies but fortunately were not needed for any serious injuries.

Ski patrollers, however, still smile when they discuss a call for help they received at the 2005 Super Shoot. Someone reported a broken leg. Ski patrollers were relieved to learn that the broken leg was actually someone’s artificial leg, Gooderham said.

Not everyone participating in the shoot took the ski lift. At least two archers hiked to the top of the ski area, using a back road, at least once.

Regardless of one’s physical condition, the course was unforgiving at times for those who missed targets since many were in front of rocks. Sometimes arrows shattered. This proved costly for some archers since many of their arrows cost $15 to $20, said Norm Paullus of the Grande Ronde Bowman.

The Grande Ronde Bowman, the Elkhorn Archers and Ski Anthony Lakes put on the shoot. The shoot had three courses, two of which started on the top level and another at the base of the ski area. Archers had to complete all three courses to place.

The courses had a combined total of 80 targets, all Styrofoam replicas of animals. Elk, deer, dinosaur, wolf, bear and coyote targets were among those that archers encountered.

None of the targets had yardage markers, forcing archers to estimate, just as they must when bow hunting.

“The course lets you practice hunting scenarios,’’ said Jim Combs of Baker City.

Estimating yardage was often difficult because of terrain dips.

“It’s very hard to judge distance when you can’t see a flat level plane,’’ Paullus said.

Shadows on the course also made it difficult to judge distances. Paullus said shadows can make distances look shorter or longer depending on where they are.

No devices for determining yardage could be used during the shoot.

Archers have little margin of error when estimating distances.

Paullus notes that someone underestimating their distance by two yards will hit 6 to 12 inches too low. Those overestimating by two yards will hit 6 to 12 inches too high.

Archers not estimating correctly when firing at small targets like coyotes or frogs ran the risk of missing them altogether.

Ten targets had $300 money spots. Anyone hitting a money spot won prize money. The amount was based on how many shooters hit the same target. The $300 for each target was split among those who hit it. Most targets were hit about seven times. Two, a buffalo and an elk, were nailed just twice. These archers each won $150.

A number of people at the Super Shoot were preparing for bow hunting season, which begins for deer and elk Aug. 28 in Oregon.

Others were honing their skills for the International Bowhunting Organization world championships Aug. 11-14 in Holiday Valley near Ellicottville, N.Y. The world championship course, which also has a ski lift, is similar to that of the Eastern Oregon Super Shoot.

The Eastern Oregon Super Shoot has been conducted at Ski Anthony Lakes for 9-to-10 years. It was conducted at Lehman Hot Springs for four years before being moved to Ski Anthony Lakes.