Bow shooters aim for bugs

Shooting close

High atop Mount Madonna the satisfying thwack of arrows piercing targets was abundant Sunday at the annual Mount Madonna Bowmen Bug Shoot. Archers from all over California converged on the archery range nestled among the redwoods and chaparral of Mount Madonna County Park, in what is the organization’s largest fundraiser and with nearly 300 shooters this year’s event was another success.
Men and women, young and old, wielded compound and standard bows, targeting menacing, foam bug targets, made by the Mount Madonna Bowmen, providing inviting targets. An upright green grasshopper, arms stretched as if seeking prey, took arrows all over its body at one of the shoots. The idea of the bugs was inspired by the winged nuisances that occupy Mount Madonna.
“This was an event started well over 30 years ago,” said Curtis Campisi, President of the Mount Madonna Bowmen and co-owner of Predator’s Archery in Gilroy. “Being up in Mount Madonna, of course, there are a lot of mosquitos and bugs up here,” Campisi, 52, said. “We took on the challenge to build the bugs and it adds a fun challenge.”
The annual shoot was a reunion of sorts for archers from as far as Fresno, Sacramento and Lodi. Groups of six people took turns at the targets from varying ranges, some as far as 90 yards and some short as five feet. Keeping score as they went, the archers took opportunities to apply good natured trash talk, based on the placement of the previous shots of their competitors. One recalled the exact spot in which he blew two bows in as many years, an ominous occurrence he was happy to not repeat.
“It’s a signature event; no other archery range puts on a novelty shoot like this with these bugs,” Campisi said. “Most archery tournaments in California draw about 100 to 150 and we usually bring about 300 and 350.”
The targets are different heights and lengths. The shortest target, which an archer could reach out and touch with their bow, is still harder than it looks since they need to hit a half and an inch sized dot. Despite the heat of the day, the effort helps to maintain the range.
“Most archery ranges are run off public property and pay a little rent for it,” Campisi said. “As a non-profit, we provide a facility for the general public to use. We are 99 percent responsible for the maintenance and use of the range and for building targets. Events like this are what we use to get funds.”
The range is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, including a $6 parking fee. Archers need to bring their equipment or get fitted up with gear at Predator’s Archery.
“You can get into an old fashioned bow for under $200 and at the shop, we provide four lessons, so they learn how to shoot it,” Campisi said. “Compound bow packages start at around $450. Usually, I recommend people to take a few lessons at first to make sure you want to make an investment into it. Once you’re in, it’s fairly inexpensive.”
For hungry and hot shooters, tri-tip sandwiches, hot dogs and root beer floats were available for purchase.