What: Oasis Shoot archery competition, attracting both local enthusiasts and more than 100 archers from throughout the state
When: Sign up 7-9 a.m. Sunday; scores must be submitted by 2:30 p.m.
Where: Grasslands Regional Park, on Mace Boulevard 4 miles south of Davis
How much: $20 general, $15 youths for members; $23/$18 for nonmembers
All it can take is a minuscule shift in body positioning, or an inopportune exhale of breath.
These are the seemingly insignificant factors that Kevin Crouse, president of the Yolo Bowmen Archery Club, says can separate a bullseye from a missed shot. Archery is a sport with plenty of nuance, and its history in the local scene is no exception.
The club, originally referred to as “Yana Bowmen,” was formed in the 1950s by a local barber, George Herbert, and others with an interest in the hobby. During that time, bows and arrows were assembled by the members’ own hands.
More precise, and less laborious, modern composite bows are now used by a majority of the more than 100 members of the Yolo Bowmen Archery Club. However, some traditionalists keep the spirit of the past alive by using old-fashioned long bows.
“What’s unique about archery is that there are so many options for people to choose from,” said Crystal Smyth, a Yolo Bowmen member and publicist. “There’s a variety for everyone.”
And just as there are local archers who tend to favor old equipment and those who prefer the new, there is a balance of casual hobbyists to competitive sportsmen within the local organization.
“We’ve had some shooters that have just recently competed in Las Vegas professionally, and some are sponsored,” Smyth said. “The rest are involved more just for the fun of it.”
Another characteristic of the group’s diversity is age. Youths have been turned on to the sport by Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, “The Hunger Games,” and the resulting movie, in which the lead character relies on her archery skills to save her life.
“It’s such an old sport, but yet it seems new because it was brought to the forefront with that movie,” Smyth said. “I know certainly that the some of the archery shops in the area have been widely utilized since that movie’s release.”
The Yolo Bowmen have plenty of space to practice their hobby on a range at Grasslands Regional Park south of Davis. Former Yolo County Supervisor Betsy Marchand of Davis played a key role in making that project a reality.
Members gather at the range along Mace Boulevard to practice shooting, and so do youth members of a local 4-H program during regularly scheduled instructor-led practices.
On Sunday, the club will host its annual Oasis Shoot at the Grasslands Regional Park. Besides the regular attendees, the event brings in more than 100 archers from throughout the state.
During the Oasis Shoot, 28 life-sized mock animals are set out along the range, with scoring areas on each. Shooters aim three arrows for each target, and then add their scores up after each respective attempt.
The competition is mostly for bragging rights, Crouse said, and should not intimidate the inexperienced. He can personally attest to it being an opportunity to get acquainted with a challenging side of archery, given that his first shooting event was the 2006 Oasis Shoot.
“That was my first real shoot, and I fell in love with it,” he said. “It’s funny, though, how people can shoot so well when they’re by themselves and then when you get a crowd behind you, you can get a really nervous feeling.
“I remember only shooting at 11 yards, which should be a drop of the hat. I pulled back, and all of a sudden I hear people behind me. I twitched, cut the arrow loose, which hit square into the middle of a big 2 by 4, and broke the arrow.”
Since then, he has been committed to bettering himself as an archer and watching others do the same. He and the other members of the Yolo Bowmen hope to recruit more locals — from pros to newcomers — into their group.
“It’s a sport that can challenge you, and you can grow with,” Smyth said. “You’re never going to reach perfection with archery. You can do your best one day, and be completely humbled the next.
“But it’s also a family-friendly activity. It’s an opportunity to relax, and get everyone together.”
— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett