Archery Campout

From left, adult mentor Len Baldini observes scouts Pren Miller and Finnegan Blackburn as they shoot at a 10-meter target. Miller is shooting a recurve bow while Blackburn aimed to qualify on a handcrafted wooden longbow.

by Brian Petit

Scout Troop 60

Sixteen scouts from Salida Scout Troop 60 earned the archery merit badge during a three-day, two-night November campout focused on archery on the Arkansas River near Big Bend.

“We shot indoors and outdoors using recurves, longbows and compound bows. These scouts shot very well,” adult archery mentor Len Baldini said.

The troop started the campout by visiting Western Archery in Poncha Springs. Morgan Love and Nate Morris of Western Archery gave the scouts a tour of the business side before moving to the indoor range to shoot. Western Archery, established in 1928, showed the scouts all the details of building and distributing archery equipment nationwide.

After a Friday night campout, the scouts spent the majority of Saturday shooting from ranges of 10 to 15 meters using a variety of bows.

“I am new to archery and I really like the recurve bow. It felt comfortable after a while, and I improved on my accuracy,” sixth-grade scout Pren Miller said.

The archery merit badge requires a thorough knowledge of the nomenclature of archery equipment, the nuances of arrows, bows and other equipment and the safety procedures required to shoot safely. The merit badge also requires scouts to qualify according to USA Archery standards using either a recurve, longbow or a compound bow. All scouts qualified.

“I qualified on the recurve but I was able to practice a lot and get better on a compound bow,” sixth-grader Caleb Vold said.

Like most scouting activities, the main knowledge base comes from the scouts themselves. The troop has several skilled archers, including Sawyer Pack, Kapono Gage and Hunter Garcia, who provided familiarization classes on their compound bows. Rasalas Wickett showcased a wood-crafted longbow that he made and subsequently qualified on during the campout.

Adult mentors Baldini and Marty Pack helped coach and mentor as the archery skills improved over the weekend. In preparation for the campout, Baldini led a classroom session where scouts built arrows from scratch.

The high shooters for the weekend were Ben Johnson and Otis Shin. “I could shoot arrows all day,” Johnson said after doing exactly that.

The scouts also refreshed their map and compass skills on a nine-point compass course, tested their outdoor skills such as fire-making and log-sawing in a timed competition and bought, prepared and cooked their own meals for the duration of the campout.

Daytime temperatures were in the low 60s while the nighttime low on Sunday morning dropped to 18 degrees.

The November weekend provided a good equipment shakeout for the scouts’ next campout: snow shelters.

Troop 60 scouts are now in the winter scouting season. Troop 60 meets at 7 p.m. Mondays at the Salida Rotary Scout Hut. Boy Scouts are 11-17 years old. New scouts are welcome anytime, and no experience is necessary.

For Boy Scouts, contact Scoutmaster Brian Petit at teampetit@hotmail.com or Michelle Vold at mvold321@gmail.com. Salida also has a Cub Scout pack for younger ages. For more information, contact Cubmaster Buel Mattix, 719-221-0492 or at buellygoat@hotmail.com.

Brian Petit is scoutmaster of Salida Boy Scout Troop 60.

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