Give archery your best shot

Chloe, Harlie, Tyler, Ken and Angela Book (left to right) enjoy archery target practice together at the Old Spanish Trail Arena. Archery target practice is being held at the arena every Monday and Friday. [Photo courtesy of Angela Book]

Archery is a family affair for Angela and Ken Book.

Along with their three children, Angela and Ken enjoy archery hunting in the La Sal Mountains when it’s in season and serve as the hosts for archery target practice for locals in the area through the winter, spring and summer months.

They have led archery target practice for the past two years at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191, where Angela works as an administrative assistant. Currently, archery practice is being held twice a week on Mondays and Fridays.

“Our whole idea is to provide a family atmosphere, not a macho vibe,” Ken said.

During target practices, archers can improve and maintain their skills throughout the year if they’re waiting for hunting season; archery season begins on the third weekend in August and lasts through mid-September. Ken said archery hunting is “more challenging, more rewarding,” than other types of hunting. He began shooting with bows and arrows with his father and grandfather when he was 5.

Not everyone who uses a bow and arrow is planning to go hunting, Ken said.

“There are quite a few who don’t hunt. They just want to learn the skill,” he said. “People do target archery for fun or for competition.”

He creates paper targets that archers can purchase for $1 at practice. The paper targets are attached to the 4-foot by 4-foot target bales. He also makes the target bales, which serve as the backdrop for the arrow. He builds a wooden frame and adds a tarp and shrink-wrapped foam for filler that is being donated by local businesses.

Traditional bales are made with other materials and typically cost $700 or $800 “so we got crafty,” Ken said.

Each bale supports four paper targets, accommodating four people for each target. Sixteen archers move through the four different targets in about five to seven minutes — there’s not much wait time, Book said.

“If we get more people involved, I will make more targets,” he said.

The Book family has increased target practices from once a week last year to twice weekly as interest has grown.

Target practices are held from 7 p.m. to about 10 p.m. Weekly participants range in number from “a few to a dozen or more,” Ken said. He intends to open an outdoor target practice area at the arena in the spring.

“This would help grow the sport,” Ken said.

He said he used to manage a BEACON Afterschool Program archery class for middle school students. Youth participants are regulated during practice. Ken oversees safety and goes over rules to ensure everyone has a proper handle on the equipment, he said.  

Angela took up the sport after she came up empty a few years ago when seeking a hunting permit as a muzzle-loader. The only hunting tags available were for archery, she said.

“I was determined to hunt, so I got myself a bow and tag,” she said. “I fell in love with archery. I’ve been shooting archery ever since. You have to clear out your mind to be a good archer.”

Ken said many people ask him to teach them archery and he welcomes newcomers to the sport.

“We want people to feel comfortable and welcome,” Ken said. “There’s not a lot to do in Moab in the winter. It’s a good release for those who compete or hunt.”

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