COLUMBIA — Joe Pendergrass has been involved in archery for 35 years, ever since he received his first bow at the age of 4.
“It had suction cup arrows, and I shot around my grandma’s kitchen sticking them to her fridge,” he said. "My earliest tie to the outdoors was archery. I was able to shoot a bow before I was able to ride a bike."
- 3D Shooting: target shooting of 3D foam turkeys, deer and bears
- Field Archery: target shooting on a walk through course
- Static Archery: target shooting from point A to point B at a 10- to 50-yard distance
- Water jug shooting: race shooting to see who can empty their water jug the fastest
- Bow fishing: fish shooting that involves archery to retrieve fish
Now he is lifetime member of the United Bow Hunters of Missouri and belongs to several other outdoor organizations. Pendergrass attended meetings for the Columbia Area Archers and became an active member four years ago. Two years later, he was voted club president.
"I want to help the sport prosper and help it be protected," Pendergrass said. "I take a firm stance on (archery) education because the sport is seen as dangerous."
To help counter that negative image, the Columbia Area Archers have put together an event to educate parents and children on how to properly participate in the sport. Discover Archery Day is set to take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at American Legion Park. It is open to people who have never picked up a bow as well as those who have always enjoyed the sport.
The school program is an effort to put archery back in schools, and Hickman and Rock Bridge High Schools as well as Oakland Junior High are taking part this year.
One of the goals of Discover Archery Day is to let people in Columbia know that there is a community of archers who would appreciate more places to practice their sport. Members of the Columbia Area Archers are trying to work with the city is to get more public archery facilities around Columbia.
“We now have one (archery facility), which is a very small part of the American Legion area and most of the park is dedicated to baseball,” said Jim Sappington, an instructor with 4-H Shooting Sports.
Mostly, though, Saturday's event is a chance for enthusiasts in Columbia to teach people what they know about archery.
“The sport is seen as dangerous when it’s not. You are actually more likely to get injured in golf then you are in archery,” Pendergrass said. “I think it’s laidback. It’s the opposite of organized sports. You can shoot anywhere from 15 minutes to six hours. Sometimes the fun is taken out of organized sports.”