Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Bowhuntin’ grandma bags her 20th black bear

Cathy and Frank Addington with her milestone bearCathy Addington of Winfield, W.Va., achieved an enviable hunting benchmark recently when she killed a black bear in New Brunswick.

It was the 20th bear she’s killed — every one of them with a bow — in the past 28 years or thereabouts.

The 70-something grandmother of two has been traveling to the wilds of eastern Canada since the late 1980s with her husband Frank. Much more often than not, she’s returned home successful. This year’s milestone achievement drew the attention of celebrity bowhunter Ted Nugent, who was hunting out of the same camp as the Addingtons. “The Nuge” had his video crew get some footage of Cathy with her bear for use on his “Spirit of the Wild” television show.

Role model?

Ah, pop culture! You’ve gotta love it.

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK (AP) — In schools and backyards, for their birthdays and out with their dads, kids are gaga for archery four weeks into the box office run of “The Hunger Games” and less than 100 days before the London Olympics.
“All of a sudden sales of bows have, like, tripled,” said Paul Haines, a salesman at the Ramsey Outdoor store in Paramus, N.J.
A manager there made a sign for the hunting department: “Quality bows for serious archers and girls who saw the movie,” he said.
Archery ranges around the country have enjoyed a steady uptick among kids of both sexes since the movie began cleaning up at the box office March 23, though heroine Katniss — a deadly shot with an arrow — seems to resonate more with girls.
“Katniss is so inspiring,” said Gabby Lee, who asked for archery lessons for her 12th birthday in February after reading the wildly popular book trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
“I’m not very sportsy,” she offers, but now she belongs to a youth archery league near her Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., home. “It feels really good because I’m usually the girl who sits and reads.”
While some young archers have been doing it for years, motivated by generations of hunters in their families, the parents of others love it for its focus, independence and because they, too, have kids not drawn to more typical team or contact sports.
At 7, Christa Mattessich is too young for the gruesome dystopian world that thrusts 16-year-old Katniss and her fellow child tributes into the arena for a battle to the death, a battle Katniss wins thanks to the archery skills she honed while hunting game in the woods of her native District 12.
But Christa loves archery just as much and has been shooting for about two years at the same range as Gabby, Targeteers Archery in Saddle Brook, N.J., said dad Anthony Mattessich in Oakland.
“I’m an avid bow hunter,” he said. “At her age, with other sports, they’re just running with each other and chasing a ball, then the ice cream truck comes and that’s that. For archery, they’re a little bit more dedicated.”
Abbey Fitzpatrick in Sandy Creek, N.Y., turned 11 on April 10. She also asked for and received her own bow and arrows for her birthday. “It’s black. It really looks like Katniss’s bow,” Abbey said. “She was so brave and very heroic in the games.”
Like more than 2 million kids in nearly every state and several other countries, Abbey did archery in gym class this year as part of the decade-old National Archery in the Schools Program that trains teachers in the sport and offers discounts on equipment.
“There’s a lot of buzz among young people about archery right now. They want to shoot bows and arrows so badly they’re willing to follow the rules,” said Roy Grimes, the organization’s president.
In Hartland, Mich., enthusiast Robert Jellison teaches seventh-grade science and has incorporated archery through NASP into his lessons on kinetic and potential energy, eye-hand coordination and the properties of pulleys and levers.
Jellison was invited in March with some of his students to perform a demonstration at the local library as part of a “Hunger Games” reading.
“Some of the kids there went out that day and signed up for archery,” he said. “A lot of people look at archery as, ‘Oh, you know, is it a real sport?’ All of a sudden there’s all this excitement.”
Bobbi Bowles owns archery shop K.C.’s Outdoors with her husband in Spicewood, Texas, outside Austin. Sales of equipment have doubled in the last few weeks, she said, and they’re adding beginner classes to accommodate more new recruits young and older.
At the Austin Archery Club, “The movie is sending a lot of people our way who are interested in archery, the crossbow and survival skills,” said a director, Roy Wenmohs. “At a recent tournament we had about 10 young people, from ages 10 to 15,” he said. “About half were new. Last year we had three.”
Games of a different sort are hoping for a “Hunger Games” bump come July, though kids in North America looking to catch Olympic archery will likely be sleeping during live competition.
“We’re thrilled with the awareness and the excitement that ‘The Hunger Games’ has brought to the sport of archery,” said Denise Parker, CEO of USA Archery, the U.S. training and selection body for the Olympics, Paralympics, Pan American Games and other world events.
“We’re already receiving feedback from our youth clubs that interest in archery programs in their areas is up significantly,” she said.
Alexis Fleming, 14, in Manor, Pa., has Olympic dreams. She shot last fall as part of the Junior Olympic Archery Development program after first picking up a bow through 4H.
“I like the fact you can ignore the world around you and just focus on where the arrow is going to go,” she said.
Nicole Donzella, 15, may not be Olympic bound, but she knows her way around a bull’s-eye and plans to DVR archery from London.
Her dad, hunter Bart Donzella, got her started in the sport at age 5, and later her younger sister, leaving “girly girl things” to their mother while he bonded with them through kayaking and other outdoor activities.
“I had a little mini-bow. It was really cute. I shot from five yards back then,” Nicole said.
Now up to 20 yards with a top score of 298 out of 300, she shoots weekly in the same youth league as Gabby at Targeteers in northern New Jersey.
“I like that it’s an individual sport but at the same time there’s other people around you so you can still socialize,” said Nicole, from nearby Fair Lawn. “It’s the only thing I’m good at and it’s really nice to do with my dad.”
She’s a Katniss fan, too. “I like that she’s making archery cool.”
Targeteers owner Rob Cerone said he averages five or six archery birthday parties a month, up from about half that six months ago. He’s filling up early for weeklong summer camps, where he teaches kids how to shoot, make their own arrows and put a bow together.
“The Hunger Games have helped, especially with the girls,” Cerone said.
Richard Johnson in Manchester, Conn., has archery in his blood. His dad, Butch Johnson, is hoping to qualify for the London Games and become one of just a few Americans to compete in six Olympiads. He brought home gold in 1996 and team bronze in 2000.
At Hall’s Arrow Indoor Archery Range, where the younger Johnson is business manager, the Katniss bump is alive and well. “We’ve had a lot of parents saying, ‘Hey, little Johnny has seen this movie, what do I have to do to get him into archery?'”
The Johnsons are looking ahead to summer, hoping the profile will be higher for Olympic archery this time around and anticipating the Pixar-produced “Brave.” The fantasy in 3-D computer animation features another young, headstrong archer, Merida, who brings chaos to her kingdom in Scotland.
“We had such a good boost after ‘Hunger Games,'” Richard Johnson said. “The same thing could happen.”

Church promotes ‘family archery’

J. McCoy photo

A lot of churches hold Vacation Bible Schools to keep parishioners engaged during the summer months. Perrow Church in Cross Lanes, W.Va., conducts an archery camp.

And the Perrow Family Archery program isn’t just for youngsters. A typical Wednesday-evening session finds 3-year-olds and senior citizens standing beside each other on the firing line.

To ensure the presence of qualified instructors, 18 Perrow members took it upon themselves to obtain Basic Archery Instructor certification. Pretty cool.

The Sunday Gazette-Mail has the full story.

W.Va. archer joins Hoyt pro staff

addington.jpgFrank Addington Jr., a Winfield-based archer who travels the country shooting aspirins out of the air with his arrows, has been named to Hoyt Archery’s staff of professional archers.

This year marks the silver anniversary of Addington’s “instinctive archery” shows. He began exhibition shooting as a protege of the legendary Stacy Groscup, and quickly branched off to try his own brand of “bow and arrow razzle-dazzle.”

A shoulder injury several years ago forced Addington to begin shooting from behind his back, a practice he continues to this day. His most notable feats include hitting three baby aspirins tossed into the air at once, and hitting a single mustard seed tossed into the air.

Archer to appear on Leno show

kristinbraun.jpgIt’s rare when someone in the shooting sports gets any exposure on network television, much less a segment on Jay Leno’s show.

So tune in tonight (Nov. 5) if you want to get a glimpse of 19-year-old Kristin Braun, a member of the 2009 USA Archery World Championship team. Braun will appear alongside Leno, actress Wanda Sykes and food maven Rachael Ray. Early word from NBC is that she’ll be asked to shoot suction-cup arrows at a Plexiglas shield positioned in front of Sykes’ face to try to make the actress flinch.

Kinda makes me wish they’d treat Olympic-style archery just a little more seriously, but any publicity is better than none.

Sharpen your broadheads; bow seasons open soon

bowhunting.jpgOne-half hour before sunrise this Saturday, West Virginia’s annual archery season for deer and bears will begin. Biologists for the state Division of Natural Resources expect it to be a good one.

Bowhunters should find bears concentrated in small pockets where acorns are relatively abundant. Deer, pushed out of the woods by an overall lack of beechnuts and acorns, will most likely be found along field edges.

My recent feature in the Sunday Gazette-Mail describes how DNR officials view the season.

School archery program spurs bow sales

nasp.jpgThe National Archery in the Schools Program is designed to get middle-school and high-school students to adopt archery as a lifetime sport.

Looks like it’s working; an independent study showed that 28 percent of the students who take the two-week physical education-class curriculum end up purchasing their own archery equipment.

Wow. Since more than a million students have gone through the program nationwide since 2002, a lot of bows and arrows must be getting sold.

The AIS program is currently being taught in more than 160 West Virginia  schools.

Samuel: Archery centers bode well for sport

samuel.jpgDave Samuel, the retired WVU professor who serves as conservation editor for Bowhunter magazine, believes archery centers being built by schools and government agencies will help attract new generations of archers.

This month’s Bowhunter column reveals Samuel’s views.

So many toys, so little time…

While in Indianapolis last weekend for the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s mid-winter Board of Directors meeting, I took an opportunity to wander the floor at the Archery Trade Association’s annual show a few blocks from my motel.


The show featured enough goodies, gadgets and gewgaws to keep even the most acquisitive gearhead satisfied for months. I’ll feature a few of the coolest new items in this Sunday’s column, so keep your eyes peeled for it.