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State tournament brings a thousand archers to Detroit Lakes

Richard Wehselor of Duluth counts up the score of fellow Olympic recurve bow shooter Skip Huestis of Minneapolis during last weekend’s Minnesota State Target Archery Indoor Tournament at Kent Freeman Arena in Detroit Lakes. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham1 / 7
Olympic recurve bow shooter Skip Huestis of Minneapolis takes aim during Sunday’s rounds. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham2 / 7
Colorful arrows wait to be counted and pulled out on the youth end of the range in Kent Freeman Arena Sunday morning. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham3 / 7
Counting scores are Mike Hvezda of Alexandria, Phillip Johnson of Lake Norden, S.D., and Gary House Jr. of Coon Rapids. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham4 / 7
A line of about 80 archers take aim at their targets during the tournament last Sunday. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham5 / 7
Scoring for the indoor tournament is five points for a bullseye or “X”, four for the next circle, three, two and one point on each concentric circle of the target. More accurate archers use the smaller targets, which only score three circles. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham6 / 7
DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham7 / 7

The sounds coming from the Kent Freeman Arena last weekend weren’t the usual blades cutting across ice, the slap of wood on rubber or the cheer of the crowd. The noise in the arena was a little more subdued.

It starts out quiet. Two whistles, then what sounds like corn popping quickly picks up and intensifies. Thud…thud, thud, thud…thud…

No. It’s the sounds of arrows — many arrows —connecting with their targets, as the Heart of Lakes Bowhunter Archery Club hosted the Minnesota State Target Archery Indoor Tournament.

Nearly 1,000 archers from Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Canada took aim in both arenas for the three-day event in Detroit Lakes.

Competitive archers from age 6 to a man in his 80’s loosed thousands of arrows during the three-day tournament, all aiming for a perfect score of 300.

Each archer fires 70 arrows a match — two practice rounds and 12 scoring rounds of five arrows each. A bullseye or ‘x’ is scored five points. Each concentric circle is scored one less — 5, 4, 3 for the small targets and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for larger single targets.

More than 1,100 archers in 15 classes shot a previous qualifying score to be eligible for the Minnesota State Indoor Tournament. The local club has hosted several other smaller tournaments, but nothing the size of the State Indoor.

According to Heart of Lakes Bowhunter Archery Club President Kyle Aho, competitive archery is a family oriented and social event, as well as sometimes fiercely competitive.

“A lot of people have been doing it numerous years, so everybody knows everybody and it’s kind of like a family reunion get together with everybody,” Aho said.

With so many classes and age groups, Aho said competitive archery offers something for just about anyone who wants to shoot a bow. He said about half of the archers in the tournament are strictly competitive shooters and not necessarily bow hunters.

“We offer something for pretty much everybody,” he said. “Every different class of shooting from bows without sights to bows with all the fancy sights on it. They shoot releases, fingers. We’ve got a few handicapped shooters who shoot adaptive equipment.”

Aho said the local club’s volunteers are the reason the Minnesota State Indoor Tournament ran so smoothly.

“On Friday, when we set up, we probably had 20 of our members helping out,” he said. “We have our board that really does a lot of work to get things organized. It’s just a lot of volunteer hours.”

Aho said the Heart of Lakes Bowhunter Archery Club has 40-50 members and is always looking for more. The club holds weekly indoor league shoots in the Boys and Girls Club two nights a week and open shooting on Sundays during the winter. The club has property near Detroit Mountain where they host 3-D target and field archery shoots during the summer.

For more information on the Heart of Lakes Bowhunter Archery Club, contact Kyle Aho at 218-841-1888 or e-mail