Best NM shooters to gather at TCC, vying to be "King and Queen of the Rockies"

Arcenio J. Trujillo

With smooth mechanics and calm demeanor, a young archer takes steady aim at a hillside target at a 3D shoot in Red River in 2016. Up to 65 archers -- some considered the best in the state - are expected to participate in the first-ever "King and Queen of the Rockies" bow shoot at the Taos Country Club June 23. The event is spectator-friendly, and will include a raffle with valuable prizes.

Archers from all around New Mexico and the Southwest are slated to converge on Taos to participate in the first-ever "King and Queen of the Rockies" shoot at Taos Country Club Saturday (June 23).

Billed as the inaugural shoot of the New Mexico Professional Archery Organization, the event aims to bring the state's best shooters to Taos for this one-day competition. According to co-organizer, Marcos Herrera, over 65 shooters are expected to compete in the event, which will feature both men's and women's divisions, all vying for their respective titles and weighty prize money.

Considered a marked, or known, yardage shoot with Archery Shooters Association scoring, both men and women will shoot at targets from the same stakes.

In a "3D" competition, life-sized animal targets are used and placed in scenes that simulate bow hunting. The terrain is strategically used to provide visual challenges and varying levels of difficulty.

In other competitions here in the mountain region, archers often have to shoot across a ravine or up a steep hill and through trees. In this instance, the semi-flat layout of the practice range at the country club will be used as the "playing field" for the bevy of shooters.

The event will include a precompetition reception consisting of dinner, silent auction and a dance. "The fundraising efforts we have set up will be used for the Taos Archery Klub youth scholarship for a deserving, future high school graduate," said Herrera, alluding to the opportunities his organization provides to kids interested in archery, which is not yet a mainstream sport. "We'll also be raising money for the Taos Tigers golf team."

An exciting segment of the Friday evening celebration involves a free 10-target experience for kids with a pro shooter as their coach. "The coaches and pros on hand will provide tips and valuable information about tournament shooting," said Herrera. "Kids interested in furthering their skills will have a great opportunity to learn from the best."

"We're trying to promote the NMPAO here and help build New Mexico's pro class," said Herrera who announced that Cassidy Cox, a member of Team USA is expected to be among the participants in attendance. "All the top shooters in the state are invited, and we're hoping to provide more sanctioned events for professional shooters to come here to compete."

Comparable to other target sports such as golf or biathlon, archery competitions combine a cardio component with precision and stillness. And much like other outdoor sports, elements such as heat, humidity, wind and light can affect the outcome of each pull.

Archers may have to overcome certain obstacles, such as a low-lying sun in the morning hours and the prevailing breezes that show up in the area in the afternoon. Another distraction shooters will have to disregard is the sheer beauty of the Taos Valley from the Taos Country Club's lofty locale.

"The view here at the country club is why we chose this venue," said Herrera in a video post. "What better way to promote a taste of Taos than to see our beautiful town - edge to edge."

The prize money is a significant draw, too, with $1,000 going to each winner, $500 to each runner-up and $300 for each third-place finisher.

This year's competition will consist of 20 target qualifiers in the morning with the top 10 individuals moving on to a "shoot-off" in the afternoon. Spectators are encouraged to attend this event, which will begin at 9 a.m. A raffle with great prizes will take place at noon the day of the contest.

Herrera and his wife Monica, Larry and Blossom Apodaca, Steven and Sofia Vigil, Martin Dimas, Sasha Sanchez and Phil Tafoya are the main organizers of this "best-of-the-best" bow shoot.

Taos Country Club is located on the south end of Taos at 54 Golf Course Drive, Ranchos De Taos.

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