WREN — On the sound of a whistle, the range went "live."
Archers ranging in age from 8 to 18 eyed targets at various distances to get in some practice while preparing for the indoor state tournament coming up in January.
Falon Cleveland, an enthusiastic 8-year-old, was among those looking to improve his skills. It wasn't more than a few days after his last birthday that he joined the Benton Bowmen Scholastic 3D Archery Club, a new youth organization that practices on its parent club's course in the Wren area.
"I'd love for us to be able to instruct kids to that level, where they're competitive and they're able to compete at the state, regional and perhaps even national stage," Craig Tokuda, head coach, said when asked what he envisions for the new club. "There are colleges and universities that offer scholarships and I think it would be neat if we could get some of the kids to that level."
The club, which holds nonprofit organization status, was registered with the secretary of state's office May 2. Along with Benton Bowmen's association, the new club is also affiliated with the national Scholastic 3D Archery program.
Loreli Fister, associate coach and president of the nonprofit's board of directors, said the club's current membership is 12, although that fluctuates up and down.
Scholastic 3D Archery is fairly new to Oregon, introduced just a year ago here after getting its start in Kentucky in 2012. It offers three main competition formats — indoor target (December-February), outdoor 3D (March-May) and outdoor target (June-July).
Fister said the targets that the club's archers shoot at as well as the rules differ a little from the popular 4-H archery program.
"We're a little more flexible on the type of equipment they can use," she said. "We basically say, 'we have a class for anybody' while 4-H tends to be a little more prescriptive."
Fister said there are S3DA club start-ups going on in places like Independence, Lebanon, Bend, Medford and Tualatin.
Fister said the Benton County 4-H program has more demand than it can handle, so the new organization does provide an alternative. In addition, the Benton Bowmen Scholastic 3D Archery Club has plenty of equipment for newcomers to get started on.
Tokuda and Fister both went through Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife classes about a year ago to become certified in Scholastic 3D Archery.
The ODFW, which Tokuda said has an interest in developing archery among the younger kids, donated equipment to the club.
"They actually set us up with a starter set of bows and targets, some of the basic archery accessories such as arm guards, finger tabs, releases, so that was really nice," Tokuda said. "That's so the kids could try the equipment and they wouldn't have to go out and invest in their own equipment should they decide they didn't want to pursue archery."
Fister said there were donations from other sources, including direct from individuals.
"Because we have recurves, we have compounds, we have some beginning Olympic equipment, we can get the kids started on whatever they want to do," Fister said. "If we get a guy who's 17 and 6-foot-4, we don't have anything that big but we can span a lot of kids. We've got arrows, we've got targets, we've got a lot of stuff."
With the equipment that's available and modest prices for memberships, it appears to be a very affordable activity to try out. Fister said a $25 per year national S3DA membership is required along with an annual Benton Bowmen membership which runs $12, although there is a program to even lower that fee.
Fister said the organization is fully insured through the Benton Bowmen and Scholastic 3D Archery.
"You see the deer and the ram out there," Fister said motioning toward the course. "This facility is very nice in that we have two year-round 3D trails. So when we've been here on the practice range for a little while, we'll take the kids out on one of the two trails and it will help them to develop the ability to gauge distances."
In addition, Fister said that since one of S3DA's goals is to introduce youth to bowhunting, working with those targets also teaches about where they should be shooting.
The S3DA State Indoor Championships are coming up Jan. 7 at BowTech Archery, located off the highway between Junction City and the Eugene airport.