Archery targets all ages in Juneau

Posted: Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Archery is a family affair for Nick Yurko and Taylor Flannigan.

Taylor, 3 1/2, and Yurko, her grandfather, 59, are among those practicing with bows and arrows Wednesday nights at Floyd Dryden Middle School.

Advocates of the sport also sponsor other classes, maintain an outdoor practice course and hold regional competitions, including one tonight and Thursday.

But for Yurko and his granddaughter, Wednesday means fun and games.

"She makes sure she tells me every Wednesday morning that I have to pick her up from day care," Yurko said.

Taylor's archery connection began with a gift.

"A friend gave me a small bow as a joke for Christmas," Yurko said. "I showed Taylor, and she said, 'That's for me!' " Taylor shoots at balloons at a distance of 5 yards.

Older archers take aim at the familiar concentric circle bull's-eyes, and also at paper deer, turkeys, raccoons and mountain lions. The range is standard indoor stuff, 20 yards. At their 40-acre outdoor practice area, the range varies from 11 feet to 80 yards, said Marvin Walter. A prize-winner in the senior male barebow category of competition, Walter, Floyd Dryden's phys ed teacher, holds an after-school archery class Monday through Thursday from 4-6 p.m. The class is sponsored by Century 21, but the Juneau Archery Club shoulders the cost of maintaining targets as well as 30 bows, 10 dozen arrows and armed guards on site.

Don Collinsworth is the president of the club, which is affiliated with both the Alaska State Archery Association, or ASAA, and the National Field Archery Association, or NFAA. Collinsworth shoots with his wife Nancy, 60.

"Archery can be a real family sport. We have several people in their late 70s still shooting," Collinsworth said.

JAC gives support to local organizations interested in archery, including ORCA, the Boy and Girl Scouts, schools and 4-H clubs.

"We have had people in wheelchairs shooting. Archery doesn't require a lot of strength or agility," said Collinsworth.

The club, founded in 1987, aims to provide quality, year-round archery programs and recreational archery and bowhunting safety classes. It mails monthly newsletters to 73 Juneau households.

Members practice indoors on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, with a special youth program on Friday evenings. The public is invited to attend the sessions, all at Dryden. Annual membership is $5 for youth, $15 for one person, and $20 for a family. Call Collinsworth, 789-4942, for details.

The archery club also maintains its outdoor range on Montana Creek Road near the rifle range that can be used year-round without charge. All 28 targets are covered and connected by a boardwalk, Walter said.

In addition, the club sponsors a youth group, Junior Olympic Archery Division, 6-9 p.m. on Fridays. Eric Lundquist, a JDHS science teacher, and Doug Bue, a Fish and Game employee, are the instructors. There are 50 kids, 4 1/2 to 17, in the program.

"Archery does lots of things for kids besides giving them a place to go Friday nights," Lundquist said. "The kids get a good sense of community out of it because they come from diverse backgrounds and may not see one another every day in school, but they make good friends. They learn a skill that they can take with them as adults. And they get to interact with people who aren't necessarily teachers or parents."

Archery also takes people out of Juneau. Yurko, Collinsworth and his wife and four other Juneau residents went on a 14-day South African bowhunting safari last fall for eland, other antelope and wart hogs.

Those who would like to learn more about archery have two chances this week, tonight and Thursday. NFAA/ASAA will hold Northwest Sectional competitions from 6 to 9 p.m. at Floyd Dryden. To be a contestant, archers must join NFAA/ASAA and register. Call Walter at 789-0942 for details.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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