Preparing archery shot

Darla Best-Sovik nocks an arrow back on her bow, aiming to land her shot at North 40's archery range at Great Falls in this Jan. 13 photo. Image by Afiq Hisham. 

GREAT FALLS - Monday marked the start of the Electric City’s first ever archery league, with over 20 teams have signing up to compete and try their hands at the sport.

You can come in anytime during regular store hours, according to staff at the North 40 archery department. Those who register need to bring their own bow, but retail workers will have 30 arrows for you and your team members to test your skills and try your luck from Jan. 13 through to March.

If the sport sounds intimidating, there’s no need to worry about experience; the league is open to players of all ages and skill level.

“Some people are just afraid of the amount of practice that they think it takes to be even semi-proficient at archery, which i can tell you isn't the case,” said Connor Olsen, one of North 40’s staff and archery enthusiast. “I've even had five and six-year-olds in here shooting.”

Even just pulling the arrow back can require plenty of focus, not to mention actually aiming and shooting... But people can find it relaxing too. I spoke with a few archery enthusiasts to learn how.

Great Falls local Darla Best-Sovik has always loved archery, but never got the opportunity to try her hand at shooting a bow and arrow until she received her very first bow as a present five years ago.

"My husband for Christmas one year bought me a tradition recurve bow,  and I fell in love with it," said Darla. "You get in your own world and when you get in that zone it's just arrow, after arrow after arrow, just flying down range. It's about instinct, and teaching yourself to immediate recognize where you're at."

For archers like Darla, improving your technique can be more challenging than simply trying to aim for the bulls eye.

"When you hit that wall, it's a matter of tweaking that technique just a little bit. It's you know, gripping your bow too tight or snatching at the string when you release. It's little things you don't realize that you're doing."

Soon, she'll be on one of over 20 teams gearing up for the league at North 40's archery range, the first for the city of Great Falls. For Darla the league is more than just a competition.

"It's about learning more, getting practice in and forcing yourself to get out of the house and just do it," said Darla.  

If you plan on signing up, you have to bring your own bow, but you'll get 30 arrows to make your shots count.

The league open to people of all ages and skill levels. If you choose to register and compete, Darla encourages would-be archers to keep one thing in mind.

"Just enjoy it. The joy of archery comes from actually enjoying it and allowing yourself to be bad at it, said Darla. “Just be bad and you'll get better over time, you just have to allow yourself those first few shots and you'll figure it out.

The new league joins other ones in North 40s in Havre, Lewiston, and Coeur D'Alene, Idaho as they strive to win a competition for four store-based gift cards ranging from $100 to $25.

Want to sign up or just give archery a try? You can drop by the store during its regular business hours.

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