Recently, local-area archers set their sites on Virginia Birding and Wildlife Viewing Trail.
Hunter Gillenwater, age four, of Coeburn, Va.
The first time event was conceived and organized by a three member Horizon Leadership Group sponsored by the Scott County, Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Tasked with putting together an event to help promote the county’s business and tourism industries, team members, Susie Gillenwater, Jo Smith and Josh Taylor chose to host an archery event for their leadership project.
“I thought an archery shoot would bring in business for those in the community that provide lodging, gas and food,” said Gillenwater. “And, another thing I liked about the idea would be the people you would have the opportunity to meet,” added Gillenwater. “Because, not only do men participate, but their wives can participate in it, and their children can participate in it, it’s just a family outing.”
And by all accounts, she was right, though men accounted for the bulk of the ninety-five registered shooters for the two-day event, held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18. As part of a scheduled 2011 Tri-Cities Bow Hunters Circuit, the event featured a 3-D round consisting of thirty targets, a kids range, a long-distance shoot, aerial targets, novelty shots, a speed-round and a tough man competition.
Jim Cooper, archery coordinator for the Kettlefoot Rod and Gun Club of Bristol, Va. graciously volunteered to help coordinate the event. Along with Natural Tunnel State Park, the event was sponsored by the Cherokee Bow Hunters Club of Mountain City, Tenn., the Big Pine Archery Club of Telford, Tenn., as well as the aforementioned Kettlefoot Rod and Gun Club.
Door prizes given away during the event were donated by local businesses including: Mountainview Exxon, Gate City, Va.; Addco Quick Stop, Weber City, Va.; Front Porch Store & Deli, Fort Blackmore, Va.; Southern Insurance, Weber City, Va.; Scott County Telephone Cooperative, Gate City, Va.; Appalachian Mountain Cabins, Duffield, Va.; and Natural Tunnel State Park.
Both days, one two-night stay in a cabin was awarded as a grand prize, courtesy of Appalachian Mountain Cabins and Natural Tunnel State Park, respectively.
Weather conditions for the event were near perfect with mostly clear skies and comfortable, short-sleeve weather. Participants found the setting of the park’s gazebo and birding trail area for such an archery event near perfect, as well. “It is beautiful terrain, and the course is well set and neatly kept,” said Todd Miller, who drove more than two hours from his home in Jefferson, N.C. to participate.
While attendance numbers fell somewhat shy of expectations, Cooper and others felt the first-time event was well received, and left many wanting more. “People really seemed to enjoy themselves, and a lot of them said we should do it again next year,” said Cooper.
In light of much positive feedback, group organizers and park staff will have much to consider as many among this year’s participants expressed a strong desire in setting their sites on Scott County, Va. and Natural Tunnel State Park, again in the future. “I enjoyed it thoroughly,” said Miller. “I hope that this is a long, on-going shoot. Everybody has been as friendly as can be.”
Aside from much praise for its physical beauty, Natural Tunnel State Park and its staff, starting with Park Manager Craig Seaver, received high marks for its role in hosting the event. “Craig has been a wonderful asset,” said Gillenwater. “He and those who work for him at the park have gone above and beyond (the call of duty) in helping promote this event, as well as Joe Fuller with the Scott County Chamber of Commerce.”
Suffice it to say, some archers would gladly target Scott County, Va. and Natural Tunnel State Park, again. “This is a very beautiful park with some great facilities, and that’s what matters to archers,” said Miller. “It’s great that you guys are doing this for the sport of archery. I’m very appreciative for all that you’re doing. I would definitely come back.”
Archery event atNatural Tunnel State Park