Pluckers converge at Sipapu, vying to add a state championship to their quiver

Compound bow, recurve and longbow users show their stuff


Archers from all around the region traveled to Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort to compete in the Northern Río Grande Sportsmen’s Club state championship “3-D Shoot” July 22-23. The archery competition featured six age groups and multiple shooting categories – all on the slanted trails of the ski resort’s north face.

In a “3-D” competition, life-sized animal targets are used and placed in scenes that simulate bow hunting. The terrain is strategically utilized to provide visual challenges and varying levels of difficulty. The mountainside at Sipapu required shooters to aim across deep swells or up steep hills and through trees.

“Some of these targets offer a real mental challenge,” said Questa shooter Steve Rael, who was navigating one of the two courses with his foursome. “If you miss your target, you might not ever find your arrow – or you might have to hike a really long distance to retrieve it.”

Rael was alluding to some targets that were placed prominently on a ridge or mound with no backing. The effect of potentially losing an arrow to a miss was compounded by lack of depth perception markers, which created nerve-racking challenges for the various club shooters.

Along with calming the core for accuracy, archers also had to tackle the steep paths that connected the shooting stations. In all, this state championship consisted of two rounds of 20 targets each. Fun shooting competitions, such as “smoker rounds” and long-distance shoots, were part of the weekend activities and occurred in the early evening hours Friday and Saturday.

The shoot was the second of this type to take place in Taos County this summer. The 13th annual Top Dog 3-D Bowshoot occurred at Mallette Canyon near Red River June 10-11. The historic Sipapu Lodge is undergoing renovations that include a new 2,141-square-foot addition, which will house a new rental shop with upgraded ski and snowboard rental equipment and a new ticket office. This includes retail space and improved traffic flow with more gathering space, new bathrooms and locker rooms. Enhancements are also planned improve Sipapu’s snowmaking system, allowing Sipapu to continue to be the first ski area to open in New Mexico, a title the resort has held for 14 consecutive seasons.

Weather for this year’s event was mild, with only spot showers affecting Saturday’s round. One of the aspects of this type of outdoor competition, however, is the continuation of the contest – rain or shine.

The next scheduled shoot in the area is the Jim Simmons Watermelon Mountain Rendezvous 3-D Shoot, which is sponsored by the Sandia Crest Bowhunters Association (SCBA) in Tijeras July 29. The 2017 fall archery-only hunt for turkey begins Sept. 1.