HUDSON FALLS -- Bows, arrows and small children — the thought could cause concern. Inside the Hudson Falls Fish and Game Club’s newest facility on Saturday, the sight of some 40 young archers ages 3 to 13 proved otherwise.
Lined up by name, each shot separately, methodically and hit their targets. From 10 yards back, many sliced the balloon on the bull’s-eye, a resonating confirmation of their accuracy.
The evening assembly was both a cause and a means of celebration as about 100 of 600 total members gathered inside the new building to dedicate the indoor archery addition.
Construction on the building, which added about 3,500 square feet adjacent to the club’s indoor rifle range and meeting room, began last November and ended early January.
A brief dedication ceremony honored four proponents of archery in the area: the late Ed Dufour and his wife, Linda, as well as Dick and Rita Sage.
“I’ve never seen 40 kids in an archery club,” said Brett Dufour, who received the plaque for his parents. Now 39, he grew up at the club while living in South Glens Falls, and said his father would have been overwhelmed to see so many children with bows.
The space was designed for archery and enabled an already existing children’s program to grow. With seven youth members three years ago, the total has risen to 47 as a result of the year-round facility. While the official indoor season is over, the kids are geared up for shooting at life-sized animal targets outside.
“It gets them out in the fresh air,” Dufour said of the sport’s significance. “I kind of equate it to martial arts. It’s something that you really have to pay attention to everything you’re doing, and when you actually succeed at hitting what you’re shooting at, it’s instant gratification.”
The 10-week summer league starts May 12, and is open to members and non-members for $40 and $50, respectively. Ages 12 to 18 cost $15 and under 12 are free.
Roy Hamilton of Whitehall joined the club a year ago with his children, Tytiana, 10, and Johnathon, 11, who is autistic. After two years of practicing at home as well, Hamilton said archery has helped his son.
“He’s doing real well,” he said. “It helps with his concentration. He really goes out there and does the best that he can do.”
His best was better than most. He popped the balloon.
According to the club’s Jim Burns, drawing more children to archery was the private organization’s goal, which was achieved in providing more hours in a specialized space. Archers had previously shared time with rifle and pistol shooters in a single indoor range. Outside offers separate ranges.
“The kids shoot more, and when you look at them they have a smile from ear to ear,” Burns said.
With instructors and rules emphasizing patience and accuracy, the archery program is not designed to shape children into hunters, Burns said. A separate, older group practices there to refine those skills.
“We’ve got some kids that play football, and some that play baseball, and they want to shoot archery too,” he said. “Once those kids hit a balloon, they can’t stop it.”
Sportswriter Alex Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.