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Lee County Archers hit the mark

July 24, 2013
By CHUCK BALLARO ( ) , Pine Island Eagle

Men, women and children from all over the area, from Naples to Port Charlotte, gathered at Nalle Grade County Park on a cool, rainy Sunday morning.

It didn't matter much that the park was flooded. They just wanted to pull out their bows and arrows and enjoy a day of marksmanship as the Lee County Archers, one of the biggest archery organizations on the state's west coast, held its monthly 3D shoot.

More than 50 people came for the shoot, many more than expected, and there were as many families as the avid hunter types.

Article Photos

Lon Goodenow of Cape Coral takes aim at the target with his long bow at the Nalle Grade County Park range on Sunday.


Lee County Archers, which has been in existence for about 30 years, has about 260 members, many of whom are snowbirds who come during season.

Ben Brown, president of the organization, said the organization has one of the best ranges in the state, and the group has seen an influx of new members, especially young ones.

"A lot of it has to do with the 'Hunger Games' and 'Brave' movies and we get a lot of young kids sign up," Brown said. "We have quite a few women. This sport is age and sex independent. We have the third best shooter in the state and she's female."

And they start early. Dominic Painter, 5, was at a short target with his short bow, practicing with the help of his godfather, Glenn Khildreth.

"He's been shooting for a year and I've been doing it since I was his age," Khildreth said. "It was something he saw me do that he liked and I encourage it."

Kids can also take part in the Sheriff's Youth Activities League, which teaches at-risk children to shoot archery throughout Lee County.

Bert Rapp and Scott Olding, both volunteers, took several kids with them, including Olding's son, Austin, 12.

"I do very well, but I haven't practiced much lately," Austin said. "I've been watching TV."

Jill Schiferl of Fort Myers is one of a handful of women who compete. She was taught by her husband more than 20 years ago.

"I'm not a big 3D shooter, but it's fun. I've been on the course and it's interesting," Schiferl said. "More women do this than you think. We have quite a few who belong to the club."

Today, it was the 3D shoot, where competitors walk up to a stake in the ground from an unknown range and shoot at 20 foam animals. The archers don't know how many points they scored until the go to the target to retrieve their arrows.

On this day, the park was so flooded, many archers went out in their galoshes, but a couple of them said the heck with it and slogged out barefooted.

After the round, they came back, had lunch, and went back out to shoot some more.

"It's a hunting game, which is why we get so many hunters for this one," Brown said. "There's target, there's Olympic shooting, hunting, all sorts of games."

As far as bows go, it depends on the person's preference. Some prefer the easier to shoot compound bows with the sites and pulleys. Others opt for the good old-fashioned long bow. Simple, if slightly harder to shoot.

"If you have good luck with a particular bow, you tend to stay with it. Arrows the same thing," said Mike Ball. "It gets down to preference."

Among the other monthly events the club holds are a target shoot every first Sunday of the month, called a 900 round, and on Thursdays, they hold an open shoot at their lighted 20-yard covered pavilion, a 30- to 80-yard outdoor range and the 28-target field range.

Most of the land is leased from the Lee County Park Dept.

For more information about the Lee County Archers or to become a member, visit their Web Site at:



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