Promoting outdoor fun

One only has to look at the popularity of films like “The Hunger Games,” “Brave” and “The Avengers” to understand why archery as a sport is making a comeback.

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Crooked Creek Archery of Williamstown will hold a free event on Saturday in an effort to promote the refuge and outdoor activity.

“It is all in the name of fun and learning,” said Matthew Magruder, visitor services manager with the refuge. “Archery is also something that is increasing in popularity thanks to things in pop culture.”

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge has been presenting this event for the past six years, according to Magruder, and while a lot of young folks seem to be interested in the sport, it is also a family event where mom and dad can get involved and pick up a bow and arrow, too.

“We teach basic archery instruction and all sorts of activities and games related to archery,” Magruder said, adding that bow season on the West Virginia portion of the refuge’s 22 islands begins Sept. 28. There are many white-tailed deer that inhabit the islands and swim back and forth between the islands and the mainland. Anyone wanting to hunt on the islands must secure a refuge permit and provide their own transportation. Anyone interested is asked to call the refuge at (304) 375-2923.

The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1990 to protect, conserve and restore habitat for wildlife native to the river’s floodplain. There are several public outreach programs offered in the warmer months on the islands and during the colder months, the Friends of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge nonprofit group offers free public programs at the visitor center. Hunting, fishing and educational programs are also offered.

“We started this event in 2007 as a way to get people back in touch with the outdoors and to introduce people to the refuge,” said Federal Wildlife Officer John Starcher, who will be demonstrating different techniques, offering basic information on types of bows, nomenclature of bows and arrows and leading the event on Saturday.

“This event is about more than just hunting – we focus on archery as a sport that is open for all ages, genders and skill levels,” Starcher said.

The event will be held at Crooked Creek Archery, 16 Plum Run Road in Williamstown. Attendees can bring their own equipment or equipment will be provided. Crooked Creek Archery has a shop, which is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. There is also a 3-D archery range with “elks and zombies,” according to Starcher, where youngsters can apply their skills, and Saturday there will also be a 3-D shooting competition, which attendees are more than welcome to observe.