NAVAJO DAM — Entering the Navajo Lake State Park on a beautiful spring day in late April, you expect to find people boating, fishing, hiking and swimming.
Archery does not immediately come to mind as a lakeside activity but, this past weekend, there were more than 100 people taking part in the Weekend 3D Archery Shoot at Navajo Lake. The event was hosted by Xpert Archery of Farmington.
3D archery is set up a lot like golf. Each target is placed at a different distance from the shooter, and each target is a designed to replicate a different game animal.
There are different sized circles on the target's “kill zone” marking 5, 8, 10 and 12 point areas. Unlike golf, the goal is to accumulate the most points.
Xpert Archers had targets set up at distances ranging from six to 60 yards on two separate courses of 20 targets each.
Since there is wide variety of bows used, different colored whiskers marked distances from which to shoot. Recurve and longbows — both types of traditional bows — can only be shot accurately up to about 60 yards. Compound bows offer many opportunities to accessorize and increase accuracy. A 60-yard shot for a compound bow is pretty standard, said Larry Dugger, who owns Xpert Archery along with his brother Jeremy.
Other activities at the Weekend 3D Archery Shoot included a “Bionic Shoot,” which required the contestant to shoot at a target made of metal with holes in it, risking ruining an arrow if it hits the metal. There was also a long distance competition.
A 3D archery course could be set up in almost any large outdoor setting, but the Cedar Loop at the Navajo Lake campground provided an especially nice arena for this shoot.
Last weekend was the first time Navajo Lake has played host for this annual event, which has been taking place for 10 years.
“It is a diverse area for targets. There are uphills, downhills and caves,” said Tara Dugger, wife Larry Dugger.
The other loops of the campground also provide a perfect place for out of town participants, coming from as far as Arizona and Colorado, to stay.
This was an event that didn't turn anyone away, as long as participants brought their own bow. Families with children as young as 6 years old enjoyed their time together while bow hunters practiced for their season.
For pro target archers, this was just one of many competitions they will take part in.
Father and son Roy and James Valdez compared their scores on each shoot but did not fill out a scorecard.
The Valdez's bow hunt during the deer and elk seasons and are able to feed off their kills throughout the year.
3D Archery is the best training they can get for bow hunting, they said. It also provides them a chance to spend quality time together.
“A lot of people don't like hunting because they think its just about killing. It's not. It's about spending time with family and friends,” said Roy Valdez.
James Valdez, 21, has been shooting a bow since he was 6 years old.
“It has taught him patience and to make judgments carefully,” said Roy Valdez.