Target shooting helps bowhunters stay sharp

Competitors at Saturday’s bowhunting competition determine the scores on their first target. Clockwise from bottom left are Jamie Hipp, T.J. Wood, Renae Hipp and Jim Wood. Walter Beevers of Clovis watches on the side. Photo by Kevin Wilson

By Kevin Wilson

Oasis State Park saw a portion of people braving the slight winds to enjoy a day of fishing, and others walking their dog.

In another corner of the park, though, a handful of people were trying to prove that they, in fact, know bow.

The park is playing host to a True Hunting Ethics (T.H.E.) archery competition, organized by the Clovis Bowhunters Association. The tournament runs through today.

The tournament features 30 life-like 3-D targets of animals.

“You try to place a spot yourself because there’s not a bull’s-eye,” said Walter Beevers of Clovis, who is the state’s T.H.E. representative. “That makes it more like hunting because I’ve never seen a deer with a bull’s-eye on it.”

Instead, competitors are firing at vital areas — areas that would result in a quick kill for a bowhunter. There are several different scoring methods, but the T.H.E. method makes hitting a vital area important — competitors can score 15, 12, or 10 points for hitting certain spots on the vital area, but earn no points if they miss the animal and lose five by hitting the animal in a non-vital area.

“You’re better off missing it completely than hitting it outside the kill zones,” said Jim Wood of Portales, one of four competitors in Saturday afternoon’s competition. “That’s what it’s all about, trying to get to the point where you’re hitting kill zones.”

Yardages for the targets vary from five to 50 yards, with different shooting points for different handicaps. Setting up for a tournament is pretty simple, Beevers said, but the key is to keep all shooting areas out of the line of sight of walking areas.

The two local bowhunting clubs, the Portales Bowhunters and Clovis Bowhunters, have membership in the hundreds, but the tournament isn’t just for hunters.

“There are a lot of people that have no interest in hunting whatsoever,” Beevers said. “They use it as a type of shooting sport.”

That wasn’t the case for the competitors on Saturday. Wood and son T.J. recently returned from Texas, where they hunted javelinas. Meanwhile, Jamie and Renae Hipp (also of Portales) do hunting and indoor competition in addition to outdoor competitions. The Hipps earned a second-place finish during the state competition in Las Cruces four weeks ago.

For the most part, the competition is a way to stay ready for bowhunting season.

“It really calms your nerves,” Beevers said. “When you go hunting, it’s not the first time you’ve drawn your bow in months.”