Craig Precision. Focus. Concentration.
These are important words to someone handling a bow and arrow, and not keeping one’s mind 100 percent attuned to the activity at hand can mean not getting the kind of connection you want as you release. Suffice it to say, Travis Walsh didn’t have this problem.
Walsh was part of a four-person team from across Colorado that recently participated in the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational in late June in Grand Island, Nebraska. Competing within the compound bow category of the national event, the quartet took home second place, only .03 percentage points behind the winning Texas team.
Walsh’s teammate John Holst placed first individually overall.
Walsh, 19, said he would have liked to have done better individually, not placing high himself, but he was pleased with the team’s performance. The group was assembled from the top shooters in the state, who had to prove themselves at county and state competitions last year.
“You get to meet a lot of people,” he said.
The several-day contest involved both fixed, paper targets and three-dimensional ones, taking the form of animals such as deer, alligators, even dinosaurs. Although the latter ones can be more fun, they also can be trickier, Walsh said.
“You don’t shoot in the kill zone, like where the heart would be,” he said. “It’s a lot of different areas.”
Walsh has been shooting with a bow for about three years, an interest he developed after seeing his older brother pick up the activity. Also interested in shooting firearms, he said the compound bow brings different challenges than a gun does when perfecting one’s markmanship.
“The wind has a lot more effect on arrows,” he said, noting that a shot that may seem to have flawless aim can miss the target entirely if not all factors are taken into account.
His coach, Shaun Polly, is also quick to point out another benefit: reusable ammunition.
“You can just pick them up (off the range) and use them again,” he said. “You can’t do that with bullets.”
Polly was present at the Nebraska competition, though archery coaches aren’t able to do much when their shooters’ turns begin.
“I was mostly just there to watch,” he said.
Polly has been intrigued by archery since childhood, growing up watching bow-hunting expert Fred Bear on television. He also will coach a group of young shooters later this month as they compete for the local honors, hopefully going on to state or even nationals themselves if their aim is true.
Polly added that he has enjoyed seeing the sport grow more prominent in recent years.
“It’s really blowing up,” he said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.