MOBERLY — Kyle Acton was 3 years old when his sister Haley Acton started shooting archery for the first time. But because of his age, he had to find another way to practice until the day he could use a real bow and arrow.
When Haley would practice at the range, "he would take his suction cup arrows and portable target and shoot those at the range," their mother, Angie Acton, said.
But Haley, 8 years old at the time, did not immediately love archery. She tried it for the first time through her 4-H Club, but after she hit her arm with the string of the bow, she decided she didn’t want to shoot anymore, Angie Acton said.
That is, until her brother Kyle started shooting real arrows two years later at the age of 5.
The love for archery the two siblings shared quickly inspired yet another family member to try shooting.
Their father, Kevin Acton, became the next member of the family to pick up a bow. But it wasn’t the first time he had ever shot because, like his children, he practiced archery as a child when he was in 4-H. Years later, inspired by his own children, he decided to dust off his old Pearson bow and give archery another try.
"I kept my old bow from before and brought that out," Kevin Acton said. "It was different from being a kid and then shooting as an adult."
Kevin Acton, along with his two children, shot at last year's Show-Me State Games 3-D archery competitions, where Kyle took the gold in the peewee group and Haley took bronze for the youth category. After their first year’s experience, the children both said they wanted to do it again, Angie Acton said.
3-D archery involves shooters walking into the woods to shoot at life-sized foam animals such as deer, buffalo, alligators and coyotes. Targets are marked on a particular spot of the animal, and shooters receive five points for hitting the body, eight for the lungs, 10 for the heart and 12 for the sweet spot, which is the smallest circle on the target.
Although Angie Acton has shot with her husband’s bow before, she is not a regular shooter. But she still came to share the experience with her family as both a moral supporter and official scorekeeper.
"I like being out here with the family," Angie Acton said.
The first of 40 targets Sunday was a turkey. Haley Acton, armed with her camouflage-patterned Diamond bow and her seven arrows, slowly surveyed the target through a pair of binoculars. With a moment of concentration, she released the string and let the arrow whiz past the trees.
Out of the three shooters, Haley was the only one to hit the turkey, but all three hit their next target, a dinosaur. The green Velociraptor was the newest foam animal the NOMO Bowhunter Club purchased for Show-Me State Games 3-D archery.
Last year, Show-Me State Games 3-D archery had around 180 participants, said Jim Wiseman, the commissioner for Show-Me State Games 3-D archery. But for him, the variety of people who show up to participate is more important than the numbers.
"We get all types of people with all different skill levels," Wiseman said. "I like seeing the diverse group of people here."
Sunday's 3-D archery proved different from previous years with an increase in the number of women and youths. The small and medium t-shirts given to every participant sold out first, instead of the extra-large shirts, which usually sell outmore quickly because there are more adult men, Wiseman said.
Kyle and Haley Acton, now 6 and 11 years old, respectively, were just two of the youths who participated in the Sunday morning 3-D archery competitions, and though they commonly practice with regular targets at their home in Columbia or with their group at 4-H, they both prefer to shoot 3-D.
Still fairly new to the sport, the Actons continue to learn and share their experience as a family. Their two Diamond bows and one Hoyt bow will continue to be with them for a long time.
"I'll be shooting until my bow breaks," Kyle Acton said.
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