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Archery tournament keeps bow hunting tradition alive at Wauka Mountain
More than 100 participants competed in event
Justin Branch, 20, a student at Gainesville State College, takes aim Saturday with his compound bow at a target 18 yards away during the first Wauka Mountain 3-D Archery Tournament at Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

With archery season just a few weeks away, local hunters take the opportunity to hone their skill with a friendly competition.

Archers tested their aim Saturday at the first ever Wauka Mountain Multiple Intelligences Academy Archery Tournament.

More than 100 participants competed against one another for prizes ranging from deer stands to hunting bows.

Twenty three-dimensional targets were set up around the school in situations that are similar to what hunters find in a natural setting. Archers had to aim through branches and consider the terrain for several shots.

"It's a good refresher for a lot of hunting situations," said Ken Stanley, president of the school's parent-teacher organization.

Dr. Glenn Sosebee helped to sponsor the tournament by purchasing a three-dimensional target. He used the tournament as practice for the upcoming hunting season.

"It's a good way to just see if your ready to shoot, if you're ready to hunt. It's a good test and competition is always really fun," Sosebee said.

For many of the families who live in the district, hunting has been a way of life for generations.

"Our district is very rural. We've got a number of kids that go to school here that were born and raised on the same property their family has been earning a living on for the last hundred years," Stanley said.

The school has an archery course and a new archery club that went to state competitions this year.

He said the archery tournament for his school is like a golf tournament in other districts.

"If you look at the recreational equipment among the homes in our district, there's probably far more homes with archery equipment in them than golf equipment," Stanley said.

Evan Abernathy participated in the tournament. He and his friends shot at targets in an "urban environment" behind the school. He said he prefers to hunt deer with a bow rather than a gun.

"It's more of a challenge ... because guns are just easier to aim straight on the target and just pull the trigger. With archery you've got to make the motion, pull back and then you've still got to make the shot," Abernathy said.

Walker Peck, 9, picked up a bow for the first time a week ago and has been preparing for the tournament ever since.

"It's been really fun. It's one of my number one things that I like to do. It's a good tournament," Walker said.

Walker's said he enjoyed shooting at the targets whether he hit them or not.

"There was a bison out there and we had to shoot it. It was really far out. You get money if you hit it but I missed," Walker said.

Stanley said the tournament was a big success and plans on having another next year.

"We hope this is an event that will continue for many years to come," Stanley said.