Local family make their mark in national archery competition

Sean C. Morgan

Travis Smith has been an all-state football player and a top bodybuilder.

Now he’s ranked among the top hunting archers in the nation.

Travis and his wife Cassandra Smith placed at the national Train to Hunt Championships held in early August at the Columbine Bowmen Archery Club near Sedalia, Colo.

They were joined by Travis’ father, Guy Smith, who qualified for the championships but did not place.

Travis placed second in the championships after winning the Oregon qualifier in the Springfield area. He had defeated the national champion during the Oregon qualifier, and they traded places at the national competition.

Cass, who is a dental hygienist with Sunset Dental in Corvallis, was third in Oregon and fourth at the national championships. Guy placed fourth at the Oregon qualifier and did not place at nationals.

“I hadn’t really thought about going, but then we all placed to where we could go,” said Guy, who is a battalion chief with Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District.

In addition to the Smiths, two residents new to Sweet Home also competes in Train to Hunt and have placed at nationals, Travis said.

Kallie and Tyler Boschma recently moved here. Tyler works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Kallie placed second at the national championship last year. Tyler was first in Oregon and nationals in a two-man team.

They were among some 16 competitors at the national event. In Oregon, they competed in a group of 26. Seven states have participating programs, with the top four in each state selected to attend the national championships.

Train to Hunt, based in Washington, is a program centered around archery and fitness. According to its website, it offers workouts that are “a launching pad for serious outdoor enthusiasts who want to learn the best way to be fit for their sport.” It offers regional competitions in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona, as well as the national championships.

“It’s fairly new,” Guy said.

It’s in its second or third year for nationals and the fourth for regional events, Cass said.

The program has two other states coming on board for next year, Travis said.

For the Smith family, “it kind of started as a Father’s Day thing,” Guy said. One year, they tried the Spartan Race in Washougal, Wash., and then last year they participated in the Tough Mudder event in Lebanon.

Travis, who is a personal trainer at Steelhead and an employee at the Bow Rack in Springfield, had been training with hunters who wanted to get in shape before the bow season started.

He saw a brochure at the Bow Rack for Train to Hunt, and then he got involved with it.

“Travis said, let’s do this thing this year,” Guy said. With the fitness and hunting components, “it’s even more of what we like to do. It keeps me motivated.”

The program started as a way for bow hunters to stay in shape in the off-season, Guy said.

“It’s a two-day competition,” Guy said. “The first day, you do 3-D, shooting targets at different ranges.”

That’s followed by a meat pack competition in the afternoon. Competitors carry weights in a pack in a timed event.

Men carry 80-pound packs, and women pack 60 pounds.

“You’ve harvested an animal and now you’ve got to get it back to the road,” Guy said.

Then they move to a challenge course, which is typically six targets over 1.5 to 2 miles.

“You run to the first target, and you’ll do an exercise at the target,” Guy said. It might be jumping on and off a box, then shooting. The shot itself may be difficult, such as lying down and then drawing the bow while sitting up.

During the challenge course, the men carry 20-pound packs, and women 10.

“And it’s not all flat terrain,” Cass said.

“It really affects your shooting,” Guy said.

At one target, the archer puts down the compound bow and picks up a recurve bow .

“That was one of the curve balls they throw at us,” Cass said.

Each target has zones that affect overall times, Travis said. Each of the six targets has a 10-inch ring. Hit it, and the final time for the event is reduced by 30 seconds. If a competitor hits vital organs, the time isn’t changed. Hitting the body but not the 10-inch ring or vital organs will cost an archer 30 seconds.

Archers who miss entirely have to perform 20 “burpies.” Targets are 20 to 60 yards away.

The 3-D target shooting is affected similarly but is on a points system instead of timed. That event includes 20 targets ranging from 1 to 100 yards.

Guy, 49, has been bow hunting since 1986, and Travis, 28, has been doing it his whole life. Cass, 28, joined him bow hunting when they married 2½ years ago.

“That’s quite a feat, to accomplish what she did in a short time,” Guy said.

It started as a family activity, and the Smiths got their early instruction from Foy Cochran and Mike Cochran. Guy Smith hunts with Foy’s son Shane Cochran these days.

“It’s a challenge,” Cass said. “Not a lot of people do it. Not a lot of families do it. It’s not only just shooting. There’s 15 different things you have to think about to hit a target. Hunting, you have to get closer to the animals.

“It’s definitely a rush.”

“I love it all,” Travis said. “It keeps you in good shape. It gets you out in God’s Country.”

He has seen things he’d never have seen in the outdoors, he said, and “it’s family time too.”

It’s something they can pass on to their children.

“I like to know I can provide food for our family,” he said, and he enjoys the challenge.

It’s a level playing field between a hunter and his prey too, Guy said. The animal has a good chance to survive, and the hunter has a chance at being successful. An unsuccessful hunt is probably more common than successful.

“It’s been something I have done with my family,” Guy said. He enjoys the solitude of hunting. “A lot of stress goes away when you’re by yourself.”