Think of it as a deadly form of golf.
Small groups of archers, most wearing military-style camouflage clothing, walk a course through 38 acres of woods, stopping at designated stations and taking turns shooting at foam animals with bows and arrows.
They tally up their own scores. Afterward, they gather in the clubhouse to schmooze.
The archery tournament, which started Saturday and continues Sunday at the Skookum Archers Range in Puyallup, is called the “Wet-n-Wild 3-D Shoot.”
The “3-D” part, says tournament director Steve Allen, refers to the targets. Rather than shooting at flat, paper targets, as archers usually do, Wet-n-Wild participants aim their arrows at three-dimensional foam figures of pigs, leopards, turkeys and deer.
“A lot of guys are interested in hunting, but not all,” Allen said. “Some are interested just in marksmanship. This is a good event for everybody.”
Saturday was a practice day. Sunday’s event, which starts at 9 a.m., is the official competition sanctioned by the International Bowhunting Organization. Top scorers in 30 different age categories will be invited to compete in a national tournament.
Wade Smith, 41, is an expert archer who says he’s been using bows and arrows since he was 16. Warming up on a 30-yard paper target Saturday, Smith put four arrows neatly inside a 5-inch circle. Still, he was not particularly happy with the result.
“You really want to see a pattern where the arrows are touching,” he said.
Smith said the Wet-n-Wild event is a challenge because, unlike paper targets on a range, where distances and bull’s-eyes are clearly marked, archers must estimate distances. “You have to guess how far they are,” he said. “Just a foot or two either way can really throw you off.”
Smith, an active-duty soldier at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said he enjoys the Wet-n-Wild tournament for its competitive aspects. “We are competitive animals,” he said.
But his real interest in archery, he said, is hunting. “I hunt everything with hooves or paws,” he said, adding that he’s killed black bear, elk, caribou, wild hogs and several types of deer.
Allen is a hunter, too, but he says that, for him, a big part of the enjoyment of archery is its almost meditative aspects.
“I use it as a relaxation thing for myself,” he said. “You have to focus so much on the correct form for shooting, you can forget about whatever else is messing you up. It’s just gone.”
All archers are welcome at Sunday’s event, Allen said. Membership in Skookum Archers is not required.
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693