News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

New archery shop aims for a variety of targets

Mike and Beth Huitt opened Top Pin Pro Archery shop August 1 to offer high-performance equipment befitting competitive pros and serious bowhunters, but that's only half the shop - and half the story.

The shop is located in the Outlaw Station shopping center next to High Desert Hair Co. and just a couple of doors down from Ray's Food Place.

A wall runs the 20-yard- length of the shop, dividing it right about in half. On one side, the compound bows are precisely arranged in impressive rows along the wall. One section displays traditional recurve and long bows and cedar arrows. The shop carries primo brands: Mathews, Hoyt, PSE, Bear - significant because the top manufacturers are very particular about choosing the shops that will carry their lines.

Beyond the neat stacks of camo clothing and packs, arrows and bottles of scent eliminator, cushy chairs invite the weary to kick back.

On the other side of this protectively dense wall is a shooting range - a multitude of targets at the far end, and at the near end demo bows and arrows for folks of all sizes, along with seating for spectators and those waiting their turn for one of the five lanes.

This isn't just about the stuff; it's about what you do with it.

You may recognize the Huitt name from Mike's other business, Mike Huitt Painting.

"Oh that's not going away," he said. "I have a great crew, and I've built that into a successful business."

He'll spent time with both businesses.

Mike's father owned and ran an archery pro shop in Eugene when Mike was a kid, and Mike caught a passion for archery. He started hunting at age 12 and got his first buck about six miles from Top Pin Archery's doorstep.

Beth shoots some, too, but her main contribution to the shop will be handling the bookkeeping and the computer. Mike is relieved, "I get in front of the computer, and soon I'm whining for help."

The Huitts have on board five pro shooters to work in the shop. Some have over 40 years of experience in the business, and their expertise has been immensely helpful to the Huitts' endeavor.

Mike and any of the pros can set up a top-of-the-line bow for the expert hunter or target competitor. As Mike puts it, "Sure, I like shooting the 'hot-rod' compounds; but really I love it all."

While hunters will be well-served here, the Huitts' goals go beyond just catering to hunters.

"This will not be an intimidating place; we're here for beginners and experts," he said. "We're striving to have the right piece of equipment for anyone who walks in to explore archery."

They're all about personal attention and listening to what their customers want.

"One of the bow reps was really pushing us hard to open this shop in Bend to compete directly with the shops there," said Mike.

But that's not how the Huitt family operates or why they want to be in this business."

"We live in Sisters because we love this community. I don't want to drive to and from Bend every day. And we believe this will draw a new demographic to Sisters."

Beth explains that putting the shop in Sisters is not so much about avoiding Bend, but about their desire to add to the community of Sisters.

"We're going to have leagues and... we hope to start NASP here! Do you know about NASP?" Beth asked.

The National Archery in the Schools Program ( cites benefits to students by boosting concentration, confidence and perseverance. Archery manufacturers and organizations have also partnered with this federal program, offering discounts on equipment and help with events. Mathews has developed a universal-draw-length compound bow with zero let-off and adjustable draw weight from 10 to 20 pounds.

Beth's descriptions of what she sees archery do for their kids, Lane and Harleigh, are much more concrete: "It's something they can do with their friends. It gets them away from the TV. It is infinitely challenging and need not be competitive. Also, a person need not be particularly athletic to have fun and even excel at archery. As a stay-at-home mom, I've had a lot of time with my kids. This gives them 'Dad time.'"

The Top Pin leagues will meet in the evenings. Participants are grouped according to what type of shooting they do: compound, long bow, etc. You may use demo equipment or bring your own. The kids younger than about 12 will be in their own groups, and the teens will likely be with the adults. There may be a women-only league if they hear that some women would prefer that. There will be a minimal charge, about $5 per night, to pay for targets.

The range will be open for anyone to stop by and shoot during business hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday).

For more information call 588-6339.


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