The arrow flew just over the target’s back. His second arrow went just under the target’s thorax.
“Now if we can just get it into the middle,” said Smith, nocking his third and final arrow.
When the field point audibly thumped the distant target in the vitals, the spectators cheered. Because they were all archers — and knew exactly how difficult Smith’s accomplishment was.
It was the first time Smith had shot that particular bow. Smith and Scott Livesay, organizer of Saturday’s Primos Benefit 3D Bow Shoot at Exit 23 Archery Range, dug the old recurve out of Livesay’s garage the night before.
“That bow is older than I am. We found three arrows that would fit it. And we put it to work,” said Smith, who attended Saturday’s shoot to pitch in for fellow Primos pro-staffer Rob Fowler.
Fowler’s mobility has been severely limited by multiple sclerosis. Livesay, a Quaker Boy pro staff member who lives in Hawkins County, organized the Fourth of July event to raise funds to purchase an electric hunting buggy to keep his best buddy in the field.
Despite Saturday being a national holiday, the tournament attracted more than 170 shooters, most of whom shot modern compound bows.
“It’s amazing the support you get when you get the word out that you are doing something for a good cause,” Livesay said. “The hunting community really pulls together and helps each other out.”
Saturday’s event brought out a mix of avid 3D shooters, avid bow hunters merely dabbling in target archery, and entire families incorporating the tournament into their day of holiday fun. All were cognizant of Fowler’s situation.
“I like to support people and I like to shoot the bow. That works out pretty well for me,” said Jordan Harmon of Bulls Gap, who is classed as a pro for indoor 3D shoots but retains amateur status outdoors.
The outdoor 3D shooting course featured 25 shooting stations with various life-sized targets of game, including wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, black bear and wild boar. Shooting positions varied, including an enclosed blind and an elevated platform that simulated a tree stand.
The targets on the course were set at undisclosed ranges from the shooting stakes, with 40 yards as the maximum. Only the “bonus shot” side stages — like the one Smith nailed to please the crowd —offered shots exceeding the usual range of responsible bow hunting distances.
Robert Jarvis, a bow hunter from Kingsport, had recently been gifted with a new hunting bow and saw the tournament as a chance to shoot his new rig and contribute to a good cause.
While the outdoor course simulates actual field hunting conditions, Jarvis said, the format of the competition isn’t entirely unlike golf.
“The camaraderie is nice. I got paired up with an older gentleman and a younger gentleman,” said Jarvis, who had only shot in one previous 3D tournament during his career as an archer.
“We were actually comparing it to holes — to being one up or two down. I’ve only done this one other time, but this is an excellent way to sharpen your skills for bow hunting. I think I’ll be doing some more of it.”