West Allis Bowmen target archers of all ages and skill levels

Mark Venne (left) shows the proper shooting form to Josh Venne on the grounds of the West Allis Bowmen club in Racine. The club offers archery programs for all ages and skill levels.
Published on: 8/6/2013

Archery at all levels is the focus of the West Allis Bowmen club.

The club, which is located in Racine County on a 60-acre wooded site, serves over 70 families from across the southeastern Wisconsin area. The total membership, taking into account both adults and youths, stands at about 150.

'The ages range from 6 to 7 years old all the way to 74, 75 years old,' club president Mark Venne said.

The members possess a wide range of skill levels, from beginners to top professionals. The club includes many archers who hold state, sectional and national championships, and there are many certified instructors as well.

'We offer family-oriented shooting, and we have a large amount of expertise,' Venne said. 'We have pro archers and 3-D (target) shooters, and people can learn from them. We now have eight national champions in the club and multiple state champions.'

The club, which has existed for over 60 years, is open year-round and offers indoor and outdoor ranges.

The 20-yard indoor range has 14 stations and the outdoor practice range features 10- to 80-yard bales.

Its schedule of major shoots extends from July to December, and one of the highlights is coming up on Labor Day weekend.

The annual Safari 3-D Shoot will be held this year from Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. The safari has been held each year since 1958 and is regarded as one of the oldest 3-D tournaments in the world.

'There is a mixture of 3-D animal targets, both store-bought and homemade, with an elephant, a mosquito and a gorilla,' Venne said. 'The homemade targets are kind of a trademark of ours.'

Another part of the club's rich history was the Midwest Archery Tournament, which it hosted from 1942 until 2000, when it moved to the State Fair grounds.

The club offers a Wednesday Night 3-D League for eight nights each summer. The format is for one arrow per target, with various points being scored for accuracy.

There is also a Thursday Nite Outdoor Target League for 12 weeks in summer. That includes field and hunter rounds, with both featuring four arrows per target on a total of 15 targets.

The club gives special attention to youths interested in the sport and holds a youth league every year with the name of Junior Olympic Archery Development.

The JOAD program is open to those ages 8 to 20 and teaches range safety and proper shooting techniques.

Introductory classes teach the fundamentals and shooting form, and more experienced archers will learn advanced techniques.

'The program has certified instructors, and the youth leagues run both summer and winter,' Venne said.

The club also supports other youth organizations such as 4-H and allows them to use its range for their programs.

One of the advantages offered by the West Allis club is availability at any time.

'You can come out and shoot whenever you want,' Venne said.

For more information on the West Allis Bowmen, check the club website at westallisbowmen.com.