Hoodoo turns into an archery range


Last updated 7/18/2023 at 10:18am

Photo by Bill Bartlett

An archer draws down on a 3D target in a major tournament held at Hoodoo.

The parking lot at Ski Hoodoo looked like an outdoor camping show last weekend, as 1,000 archers from around the globe set up camp for the second leg of the Hoyt Northwest Mountain Challenge (HNWC). The first occurred June 9-11 at Tamarack in Idaho. The series ends at Stevens Pass, Washington July 28-30. All three venues are ski resorts.

The NWMC started in 2012 as a single event in Idaho, and has become the premier 3D archery triple-crown event in the West. It is not your everyday 3D archery shoot. They are full-scale events designed by hunters for hunters, from the terrain and elevation to the miles and shots. There is a course for every skill level, from youth and tournament shooters to the backcountry hunter.

Archers, many accompanied by their kids, could shoot for fun or competition. There were nine courses in all. The Pure Elevation Course was the most physically demanding. Approximately 3.5 miles, the 15-target course tested archery skills, as well as stamina. Targets were from 10-100 yards. Range finders were allowed.

There was a night shoot, a novelty shoot, and a 3D Pop Up Shoot. Plus a Dead-On Kids Course and the Vortex Optics Course.

Targets are life-size elk, bear, deer, antelope, turkey, and other game made of self-healing foam. The lifelike targets on the Hoodoo course cost over $2,000 each.

It was serious archery in stunning terrain, the kind bow hunters would encounter in real hunts.

"A lot of these competitions are on well-used trails with targets sitting in open terrain," Cole Widner of Australia told The Nugget. "Here, it's like it would be in the wilderness, where you do a fair amount of bushwhacking and where game is not in clear view."

Bobby Goodson from Florida was awestruck by the panoramic setting and steep terrain as he and Gordon Case from North Carolina shared a chair on the Manzanita lift that carried shooters up mountain. About 15 Ski Hoodoo employees opened the resort, running the lift and kitchen.

Photo by Bill Bartlett

Archers are participating in a series of tournaments held at Western ski areas.

"This is more than I could possibly imagine," Case said as he described one target, a 44-yarder, that was centered between two trees spaced only three feet apart.

"That's the real world," Goodson said.

With a full parking lot, many attendees camped as far away as Indian Ford, Lost Prairie, or Big Lake.

The event is sponsored by Hoyt Archery, founded in St. Louis in 1931, and considered the worldwide brand leader in bow making.

Archery is a family affair. Many at the event recalled their days at summer camps where archery was a frequent activity. Today it's a half-billion-dollar industry with 6,000 dealers serving more than 23 million enthusiasts, 38 percent of whom are women.

The deer and elk, Western Oregon archery season starts September 2 and runs for 30 days.


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