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Nevada County: a hotbed for archers

Eileen JoyceJennifer Sager loads an arrow into her bow at the Nevada County Sportsmen's Club Wednesday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Quick: What’s more accurate, an archery bow or a rifle?

A friendly target shooting contest settled that question in April at the Nevada County Sportsmen’s Club.



“We beat ’em,” said Charley Washburn, one of the archers who challenged the club’s gunpowder gang.




But then, these were no ordinary archers.

Washburn is among a core group of about a dozen serious competitive archers who practice regularly at the sportsmen’s club, which features an outdoor archery course that some say is the best (and best-looking) in the state.

So how good are they?

Around Valentine’s Day, about 10 archers from the club are going to Las Vegas for the World Archery Festival sponsored by the National Field Archery Association.

They’ll be shooting at a bull’s-eye the size of a quarter 18 meters (59 feet) away.

You get 10 points every time you hit the center bull’s-eye. And you shoot 90 arrows: 30 a day, on three separate days.

So that’s a possible 900 points.

And you need to score in the near-perfect, 890- to 900-point range to have a chance of winning the $10,000 top prize for compound, freestyle, unlimited division, which allows use of peep sights, a mechanical string release and other accuracy-enhancing options.

“If you lose one point, you’re just about out of it,” Washburn said. “You’re not going to be in the top money.”

Don and Bev Kouns will compete in that event.

The couple moved here from San Jose largely because of the sportsmen’s club’s archery range, which is laid out in the woods so you walk from target to target.

“It’s … one of the prettiest ranges in California. If not the prettiest,” Bev Kouns said.

Rusty Mills is another Bay Area archer who was inspired to move here by the club’s archery range.

Tired of the “rat race” there, Mills came here to visit a friend, saw the archery course, and then “went back and told my boss I’m quitting and moving to Grass Valley.”

The club’s competitive archers range from in age from retirees to 12-year-old Jennifer Sager.

Other archers at the sportsmen’s club Wednesday were Ron and Linda Sager, Mark Applegate, and Chuck and Jan Sciacca and their son Joseph.

They’re all going to compete in Las Vegas.

“This area is really (rife) with some top-level archers,” Washburn said. “This is not just a standard group of people.”

Learn More

Getting involved: It costs $5 for guests to use the outdoor archery range at the Nevada County Sportsmen’s Club. All archers are welcome at a club shoot at on the second Sunday of each month. It starts at 10 a.m. in the winter; 9 a.m. in the summer.

The sportsmen’s club offers two youth archery programs: 4-H Club kids shoot there at 9 a.m. the third Saturday of each month. And in the warmer months, the club offers after-school archery on from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through JOAD, the Junior Olympic Archery Development program.

For more information, call Charley Washburn at home at 273-7031.


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