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An archer's paradise

A look at the Big Foot Archery Club

A PART OF THE COMMUNITY - The Big Foot Archery Club may be secluded among 40 acres of mostly dense woods, but it doesn't operate in a bubble. Recently, children from the One Step At A Time Camp visited the club and shot at targets. Also, the club has several events, including 3-D shoots, throughout the year. The club's first sportsman's banquet and "gun and bow blast" is set for Saturday, Oct. 16. The event is to raise money for the club to either build a new work and storage shed or to add onto the existing shed. Club President Joe Williams said people who may be interested who don't want to wait for club events can visit the clubhouse. "Almost every Monday night of the year, there's a bunch of us down there at the clubhouse," he said. "So, if you want to just drop by, that would be fine." For more information, call Williams at (262) 275-6002 or visit the club website, www.bigfootarchers.com.
September 01, 2010 | 09:05 AM
Linn — Joe Williams hunts, and one of his favorite memories was when he saw a buck standing on a ridge.

"The way the sun hit him, it looked like his antlers were made out of solid gold," Williams said.

But when it came time to take the shot, he didn't pull a trigger. Mostly, whenever Williams hunts, it's with a bow and arrow.

One of his passions is archery, which led him to join the Big Foot Archery Club about 16 years ago. He has been the club president for the last five years. Williams said there's more to hunting with a bow and arrow.

"With a rifle, it's kind of abstract, although I do rifle hunt a bit," he said. "But when we go out with long bows and recurves, we're taking shots from 20, 30 or 40 yards away. It's more challenging and it's more fun. You feel like you've accomplished something."

Archery is a sport, a hobby and a way of life depending on who's talking about it. Fifty-three years ago, a group of local people felt strong enough about it to develop the club.

Today, the club's website claims there are more than 100 active members.

"It originally started out, I think, on a farm field," Williams said. "Then, it wound up in a school for a while, then the Playboy Club (now Grand Geneva)."

More than 45 years ago, the club purchased 40 acres at N960 Hillside Road.

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Williams said he heard back then, club members were growing tired of having to drag out backstops and targets each time they wanted to shoot. To this day, club members maintain the site.

On top of a hill shrouded in woods is the clubhouse and field course ranges. The narrow, gravel driveway is easy to miss except for the red-and-black sign with the club's name on it. Although archers can't hunt on the property, there's plenty for them to do.

"Shoot the arrows or shoot the breeze," Williams said. "That's what we always say."

This summer, Williams has been working on some of the ranges.

"The field courses have kind of dogged out the last couple of years," he said. "We want to put these courses back in shape."

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There are five ranges — one for practice, two "broadhead" ranges and two field courses.

Williams said on the field courses, archers shoot at excelsior bales between 15 feet and 80 yards away.

On the broadhead courses, archers shoot into sand pits and at cardboard silhouettes — from elevated stands in some range locations — from up to 20 yards away.

Also, the Big Foot Archery Club has a campground open to members during some 3-D shoots.

On these shoots, archers can try their luck at sinking arrows in everything from a 16-foot-tall giraffe to Sasquatch himself. These targets are built by Bob Tastsides, who Williams called "a natural artist."

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Inside the clubhouse are essentially two areas — one for indoor shooting, another with long tables and a bar for socializing. Williams said people also can purchase archery equipment at the clubhouse, which lives up to the club's intention of creating a year-round area for people with a common interest.

"This is something a family can do," he said. "Age is no factor."

No pressure

Williams has been interested in archery for more than 50 years.

"I think I was a teenager when I started it," he said. "I just like the outdoors and used to really be into shooting sports. But with archery, I just stuck with it. It's a fun sport, lot of nice people in it."

The former volunteer firefighter and scout leader looked to renew his interest after moving to Walworth about 20 years ago from McHenry County, Ill.

"I didn't have a place to shoot anymore," he said.

When Williams isn't hunting deer, bear, wild boar, caribou, turkey or antelope, he said he enjoys shooting because it relaxes him.

"In my case, it's a no-pressure sport," he said.

Williams said he believes the number of club members also proves it's a sport that hasn't died, which may be due to the cost to play in it.

"Depending on how much you want to get into it, archery doesn't cost a whole lot," Williams said. "When you get into something like golf, to play on golf courses, you could pay astronomical fees. But, like golf, this is something a family can do together."

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