By Scott Morrison
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Archery is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. Movies like "The Hunger Games" and "Brave" have given birth to a new, younger crop of archery enthusiasts around the nation.
This weekend, the Regions Archery: Bowhunters Pro/Am Tour came to Athletic Park and Ridgeline Nature Preserve hoping to find that interest in Anderson. Regions brought roughly 90 professionals and 31 vendors to create an event for the average archery enthusiast or those who know little about the sport.
“We are very thrilled that Regions has chosen Anderson,” event coordinator Wayne Huffman said. “They could have gone so many different places, but Anderson was one of their choices.”
The professional archers will finish competition beginning at 8 a.m. today, and the vendors are offering local residents a chance to talk to some of the biggest names in archery. Regions is encouraging people to come out and watch the professional events, meet with vendors, and shoot their own bows or try a demo.
As of Saturday morning, local interest had not met expectations.
“All of the vendors are in this for the long haul,” Huffman said. “They understand that they may not make a lot of money right now. They see this as a viable opportunity for people in our sport to experience something different.”
Between 25 and 50 locals had stopped by the Bohning Archery booth. Lancaster Archery Supply, the biggest archery supplier in the United States, reported fewer interactions.
“I think it is going to be a tough first year to get Regions going,” Bohning Archery spokesperson Stacey Randall said. “But it is going to be a good organization for archery. The biggest thing is for people to get out and try it.”
Regions and national vendors know very well they have an uphill battle, and hope that word-of-mouth can spread its popularity.
"Regions is putting the time and effort in, and they aren’t cutting corners, so people need to support this," said Darrin Christenberry, who traveled from Spencer to shoot in the tournament and see what Regions is all about.
Christenberry started shooting in the early 1990s and has shot for Team USA in Croatia and Turkey. Christenberry and Huffman both see archery as a sport that can draw a wide variety of people. "Recreational archery, to shoot at home, is really not expensive," Christenberry said. "It’s super easy to get into it. You can find a place to shoot anywhere online, and local shops have information and flyers."
Richard Pintcke founded Regions less than a year ago trying to help archery spread nationwide. Pintcke said he wants to focus on making affordable, comfortable, first-class events for archers where they can interact with vendors and shoot on national-caliber ranges.
While Regions has the potential to be good for the sport of archery, the archers and vendors are not the only groups who can benefit from this weekend.
"It puts Anderson on the map," Huffman said. "The visitors coming in here are staying at our motels, eating in our restaurants, shopping in our stores, and the manufacturers are being exposed to Anderson and engaged in conversations that could bring their companies here to Anderson."
Today’s events are free and open to the public. Professional shooting will run from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
If you go 8 a.m., Rangeline Nature Preserve: Second Round - Morning Shot Gun Start 8:45 a.m., Rangeline Nature Preserve: Pro Bow Hunter Class shot gun start 8 to 10 a.m., Athletic Park: Bow Life Pop - Up Range Open 1 p.m., Athletic Park: "Pro pressure Point Shoot Down" open pro, senior pro, women's pro "Pro Bow Hunter Shoot Down on Pop-ups" Awards, Photos, and interviews 2:30 p.m.: All facilities close