Archery club leader calls beginners 'the future of our sport'
After seeing how much fun her husband, Bill, and 10-year-old son, Scott, were having at a beginners class offered by the Janesville Bowmen archery club, Ann Pilgrim and 7-year-old daughter, Shannon, decided to join in.
"Surprisingly, it's a family activity we can do together," Ann said during a break in the two-hour class.
They weren't alone.
Bowmen club member Mike Schabacker of Janesville was there with his son Ethan, 11, and daughter Darby, 9. Ethan already had taken a number of classes and sat at the back of the shooting range while Darby honed her skills.
"I learned I had to move my hands down because I was shooting higher," Darby said.
"It's helped her be more accurate,'' said Mike, whose kids grew up watching him shoot.
The Janesville Bowmen has more than 300 members and has been offering beginning archery classes for seven years at its North Fox Road clubhouse west of Janesville.
"They've been very popular, and we've had up to 17 students per class," club President Mike Wixom said.
Club leaders believe students in the beginning classes "are the future of our sport,'' he said.
"Janesville Bowmen is about family," Wixom said. "It's also about educating the knowledge of archery.''
At a recent class, Tony Vultaggio pulled a stool into the middle of the shooting range and took a seat.
While holding a bow and arrow, he reviewed safety with the students and had one student demonstrate the proper way to carry an arrow.
Another club member, standing on the sideline, asked Vultaggio to remind students to always face down the shooting lane while straddling the shooting line.
"When you hear the whistle blown twice, it means the shooting line is clear,'' Vultaggio said.
Later, Brian Alwin, 10, of Avalon was perfecting his shot with a bow he got for Christmas. Eventually, he plans to use it while hunting with his dad.
"His stance and aim have gotten a lot better,'' said his mother, Lori Alwin. "They've got a lot of good teachers here."
The classes have been a good fit for Brian, who has no interest in 4-H or athletics.
"I just want to shoot and compete in a tournament as soon as I can,'' he said.
He'll get that chance when the club hosts a beginning archery class tournament April 2, Wixom said.