Right on target

Published 3:17 pm Saturday, November 1, 2008

It’s a world of dinosaurs and alligators, where a seven-foot tall moose has been known to roam and where the members grew excited for this year’s hunting season over a wildgame feed of goose, pheasant and turkey.

It’s known to locals as the Cedar River Archery Club in Lansing, where the grounds are now covered with leaves, and the chirping geese fill the brisk, fall air.

It’s more active in the spring and summer months, when 3-D tournaments and target shooting leagues are held from April through August.

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But club members, for an annual rate of $40, get access to the club and its range 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It’s a family-oriented club,” says president Matt Streiff. “We’re an archery club before we’re a hunting club.”

The club, which is affiliated with the Minnesota State Archery Association, was established in 1940 and is planted on just less than 40 acres.

It features an archery range that includes target shooting from 20 to 60 yards, camping facilities, a clubhouse and a picnic pavilion.

The 70 or so members can camp when they want, while free camping is open to the public on tournament weekends.

“The goal is to promote archery, and we try to get youth involved as much as we can,” says vice president Keith VandeZande.

Tournaments are usually held one per month from April through August and attract archers from as far away as Wisconsin and Iowa.

The events are open to the public and feature life-like statues of everything from a dinosaur to an alligator and yes, a moose.

“You name it, we’ve got it,” Streiff says about the statues.

“It helps develop your skills as a hunter,” VandeZande adds.

The statues are decorated with a bullseye-like pattern that allows tournament participants to score points based on the area of the animal hit.

And on Wednesdays from April through August, league archers wander through the property shooting targets.

The club caters to all levels.

Experienced shots can come out and perfect their skills, while the beginning archer can learn from the more seasoned.

“There’s always someone willing to help you get your stuff set up,” VandeZande says.

It’s not a cheap sport, however.

Streiff says a used bow can start at a couple of hundred dollars and continue up between $800 and $900 for a new bow. If you want competition equipment, then you’re looking in the thousands.

Once you have the bow, it’s on to other important details.

“Seventy percent of it is getting it set up in the first place,” VandeZande says. “You want the equipment to fit the person.”

Both VandeZande and Streiff recommend going to a professional hunting store and getting a bow fitted there.

Once the bow is properly fitted, Streiff says, most everyone has the ability to shoot it.

“You can be a computer nerd; you don’t have to have any athletic skills,” he says, while adding that he would like archery to be taught more in schools. “You can take a kid who may not be good at hockey and football, but can shoot a bow and be competitive.”

The love for archery runs in the Streiff family, a sport that’s fun for both the parents and especially the kids.

“For me it’s nice to get them out of the house and the video games,” he says.

The Cedar River Archery land is also available to members for bow hunting, a season that this year runs from now through Dec. 31.

Both Streiff and VandeZande are avid hunters.

“For me, it’s the three months in the fall you get to hunt,” VandeZande says, who also processes his own meat and makes summer sausage, kielbasa, snack sticks and jerky. “I enjoy messing with the recipes.”

VandeZande shot his limit of one deer in the middle of October, an eight pointer.

Streiff is still looking for his trophy, taking his time and says he has already passed on a dozen or so.

“To me, it’s just relaxing,” he says about hunting season. “I get off work and go up in my tree. It’s just a way to unwind.”

For Streiff, VandeZande and the Cedar River Archery Club, hunting is all about ethics.

They say the best shot on the deer is to aim broadside, behind the shoulders.

“That’s what we’re promoting,” Streiff says. “You want good, clean ethical kills. You want the perfect shot. If you don’t have it, let it walk away.”

As far as that dinosaur goes, well, he’ll probably just stand there for awhile.