La Grande archer among nationís elite

By Dick Mason, The Observer June 08, 2012 02:26 pm

Clayton Lowe of La Grande placed second in the        bowhunter freestyle division at the recent National Field Archery Association championships in Redding, Calif.
Clayton Lowe of La Grande placed second in the bowhunter freestyle division at the recent National Field Archery Association championships in Redding, Calif.

Newcomer to archery places second in freestyle at national meet  

Limited experience is not limiting Clayton Lowe of La Grande when he takes on some of the best field archers in the nation.

Lowe, who took up competitive archery only two years ago, recently placed second in the nation in the bowhunter freestyle division of the National Field Archery Association championships in Redding, Calif.

It is unusual for someone so new to competitive archery to do so well so quickly, said Gene Erwin of  La Grande, an experienced archer and a  member of the Grande Ronde Bowmen.

“Clayton does not know how good he is,’’  Erwin said. 

At the same event  in Redding, Lowe placed first in the bowhunter freestyle division of the Western Classic Trail Shoot, which was conducted simultaneously with the NFAA championships. Scores from the event were tallied  for both tournaments.

Jerry Gibson of La Grande also had high finishes at the NFAA and WCTS events. He placed third in the master senior freestyle limited division of the NFAA championships and fifth in the WCTS.

This marked the fourth year Gibson has competed in the Redding event and each year his scores have improved. Gibson has won many state and regional honors as an archer in recent years. 

Gibson is among those advising Lowe and said he is an archer of noteworthy potential.      

“He’s kind of a natural,’’ Gibson said. 

Competitors at the Redding event  fired at 70 wildlife replica targets over a three-day period. They shot at Styrofoam elk, deer, bison, mountain goats and even a nine-foot Sasquatch. 

The target models were placed in realistic and scenic wildlife settings. 

“It is like a park. It is well designed,’’ Lowe said.

Yardage was marked for each target. It ranged from three yards for a butterfly to 101 yards for Sasquatch. The distance information  took out the “guess work’’ for archers, making it easier for archers to focus on technique.

  “They want it to strictly be a shooting competition,” Lowe said. “There was more stress on good shooting than estimating yardage.’’

Lowe competed at the Redding event, put on by the Straight Arrow Bowhunters, a year ago but was held back by illness and nerves. 

“I was more at ease this year. I knew what to expect so it was not as overwhelming,’’ Lowe said. “I had a lot more confidence on the course.’’

He said the help he got from his wife Casey and the archers he traveled to the tournament with from Alpine Archery and the Grande Ronde Bowmen made a big difference for him.  

“Everyone (with Alpine Archery and the Grande Ronde Bowmen) looks out for one another. There is  a lot of  positive reinforcement. It gives you an exciting push.’’

The party Lowe traveled to Redding with included Scott Wilson and Norm Paullus, who both turned in good performances in the WCTS. Wilson placed third in the senior male freestyle B category and Paullus placed 12th in the senior male freestyle A category.