Aiming For the Bullseye
Rob Potter | Democrat
PICTURED ABOVE ARE several members of the Catskill Mountain Archers on a recent evening at the indoor archery range in the basement of Garry’s Great American in Liberty. Kneeling, from left to right, are Joe Sustack, Harry Walker, Joe Schick, Rich Holohan and Val Sorrentino. Standing, from left to right, are Tim Dennis, Doug Seibert, Paul Muthig, June Kilpatrick and Steve Katz.
By Rob Potter
LIBERTY February 6, 2007 When most people think of indoor winter sports, basketball and wrestling are two which immediately come to mind.
But there are others, including archery.
Dozens of area adults and children have found a way to enjoy their favorite sport while protected from the snow, gusty winds and cold temperatures that winter brings to Sullivan County.
For the past couple of months, members of the Catskill Mountain Archers club and participants in the Town of Liberty Parks and Recreation Department youth archery program have been shooting at bullseyes at the indoor range located in the basement of Garry’s Great American in Liberty.
At the beginning of January, the 60 members of the Catskill Mountain Archers began their league at the range housed under the aisles of the supermarket on Liberty’s North Main Street.
Through the end of March, the club members men and women who range in age from 13 to 76 will compete in three skill levels. The members shoot at the Garry’s Great American range at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday evenings and at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
The top archers in each division will receive trophies at the club’s annual awards banquet, which will be held in May at The Rockland House in Roscoe.
The Catskill Mountain Archers formed 10 years ago and began shooting at the Garry’s indoor range eight years ago. While many of the club members are avid bow hunters, some members prefer to only aim their arrows at paper targets.
“The goal of the club is to teach children about the great sport of archery and how to be good sportsmen,” said Joe Schick, a Roscoe resident who founded the Catskill Mountain Archers a decade ago and currently serves as the club’s treasurer.
While each member concentrates completely on the target while drawing their bow in the hopes of getting a bullseye to improve their own score, there is also a great deal of camaraderie among the members. At the start of a recent shooting session, the dozen members at the range greeted each other with warm smiles and hearty handshakes.
“We have a great group of people and always have a good time,” Paul Muthig said.
Muthig, who lives in Parksville and serves as the club’s vice president, joined the group two years ago. He said that he has hunted with muzzleloaders and rifles for decades, but began bow hunting a couple of years ago.
“You can get your bow hunting license for free at age 70,” Muthig said with a smile.
Val Sorrentino of Wurtsboro became a member of the Catskill Mountain Archers last month after learning about the club from his friend Harry Walker. Sorrentino said he enjoys shooting with his fellow club members and is happy that he joined the group.
In an effort to teach the next generation about the sport, the Catskill Mountain Archers team up with the New York Bowhunters to send youngsters to a summer archery camp. Boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16 who live in one of the counties in the New York Bowhunters Region 3 which includes Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester write essays as part of the selection process.
Judges then choose the 20 best essays and those youngsters are invited to spend three days learning about archery at the Sullivan County Conservation Club camp on Coopers Corners Road in the Town of Thompson. This year’s camp for the essay winners will be held from July 7 through July 9.
Schick said that he and his fellow club members really appreciate Garry Cassevah, proprietor of Garry’s Great American, for allowing them to use the indoor range. They also thanked Howard Travis for all he does to help the club. Travis, who owns Travis Archery in Liberty, maintains the range on a daily basis.
Schick also noted that from April through September each year, Walter Brzytwa graciously allows the Catskill Mountain Archers to use the outdoor course at his farm on Morton Hill Road in Roscoe. The course is dedicated to Walter’s son, Tony Brzytwa, who loved bow hunting and the outdoors.
Youngsters take aim at indoor course
Members of the Catskill Mountain Archers are not the only archery enthusiasts who use the Garry’s Great American indoor range.
Twice a year, in the spring and fall, the Town of Liberty Parks and Recreation Department sponsors an archery course for boys and girls ages 7 to 17 who reside in the Town of Liberty.
For $10 to $15, the youngsters have the chance to shoot at the range every Tuesday night while being taught and supervised by qualified adults. Youngsters who live in another town may also participate, but they must pay a slightly higher fee.
A total of 21 boys and girls took part in the recently completed fall archery course under the guidance of volunteer instructors Leigh Benton and Dominic Fontana.
“It’s been great,” Fontana said. “Every kid in the class has improved.”
One of the ways that Fontana and Benton helped the kids improve their aim was to put a dollar bill on the target. When the young archer shot an arrow through the dollar, the instructors would fold the dollar bill in half. Once the youngster successfully hit the folded dollar bill, the bill was folded in half again.
“At least half of the kids were able to shoot a quarter-dollar,” Benton said.
Of course, the kids increased their accuracy because they knew they could keep every dollar they shot.
Fontana thanked the Catskill Mountain Archers, Gary Cassevah and Howard Travis for their contributions to the program. The Archers and Cassevah allowed the boys and girls to use the range each week, while Travis donated several Genesis bows.
The Genesis bows have no let off or draw, so they are easier for the youngsters to aim and shoot. Another factor which made it less complicated for the young archers was that several bows were equipped with a finger grip, which is similar to the trigger on a gun.
Nine-year-old E.J. Allen has participated in the program for two years.
“I like shooting the dollar bills, it’s fun,” said Allen, who is a fourth-grade student at Liberty Elementary School. “It’s a challenge.”
Allen said when he gets old enough he plans to hunt with a bow and a rifle, like his 16-year-old brother, Nick.
“We get better at shooting arrows here,” E.J. Allen said. “I like that a lot. And I feel proud when I hit the bullseye.”
Rose Fontana, the 9-year-old daughter of Dominic Fontana, also participated in the recent archery program. Two of Dominic’s other children, Guy and Angelina, completed the program as well.
When asked what she enjoyed the most about shooting the bow and arrows, Rose Fontana did not hesitate to answer.
“Shooting the dollar,” she said. “I got down it down to the 16ths.”
Note: The spring youth archery program is scheduled to begin in a few weeks. For more information, please call the Town of Liberty Parks and Recreation Department at 292-7690.
To learn more about the Catskill Mountain Archers, please call Joe Schick at (607) 498-4611.