Snowy weather usually drives archers indoors to shoot. However, some archers think the real excitement begins when snow starts flying. For them, snowshoe archery biathlon turns wintery weather into the perfect storm.
The Leavenworth Fish Hatchery in Leavenworth, Washington, combines snowshoeing and archery as part of a community outreach program that introduces people to the outdoors. Ellie DeMarse organized this biathlon after realizing archery’s popularity could capitalize on snowshoeing’s ability to teach people “different winter ecology concepts.”
“Archery is a great way to introduce people to the outdoors,” DeMarse said. “It’s a very safe sport, and it’s a great sport for people of all ages and all levels of athleticism.”
Participants in the snowshoe archery biathlon were students from Cascade High School’s Discovery program. This program is an alternative class on the hatchery grounds that gives students unique ways to learn outside a traditional classroom environment. Besides its fun-filled archery biathlon, the Discovery program offers students mentorship opportunities with hatchery biologists during a three-week course.
“It’s a great program because it combines aerobic activity with the mental focus needed for archery,” DeMarse said. “It’s also a great way to get students outside.”
The three-week course started by teaching students basic archery form and snowshoe fundamentals. They also learned archery safety and the whistle commands for competition. During the second week, students learned to run with snowshoes and improved their archery skills. The class culminated in an archery biathlon competition.
During the biathlon, students sprinted 200 feet from the starting line to the archery range, where they shot five arrows each before sprinting to the finish line. Their final score included their archery score and the overall time it took to complete the course. Good hits during the archery portion improved the competitor’s score by reducing their overall time.
For example, an arrow in the target’s center reduced the competitor’s overall time by one minute. This scoring system leveled the playing field between fast runners and accurate archers. “If students were slow runners but accurate archers, it really evened out the scale,” DeMarse said. The person with the fastest time in the biathlon won.
The program hooked students on archery. “They really, really loved it, all across the board,” DeMarse said. “The students progressed quickly and did so well in archery. It’s a huge confidence booster for them.”
A snowshoe archery biathlon is just one of many great ways to enjoy archery. To find archery programs nearby, contact an archery shop or club.