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In the Adventure Biz: Western Archery

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Handcrafted arrows all made in Salida are just the beginning of Western Archery’s love for Colorado. Find out why the company has called this state home for more than 90 years from Aaron Dobson, a Western archer himself.

Tell us a little bit about Western Archery’s beginnings.

Western Archery started as most outdoor companies do, with people who were passionate about their hobby. Clarence Love — the grandfather of the current owners — started building bows for himself and building many of his own hunting products. He was an avid hunter who spent his fall seasons like all Colorado hunters: in the outdoors chasing game. At this point, hunting was even more of an intense sport, as it meant backpacking-in with gear that wasn't nearly as good as it is now, with far fewer people in the woods, and chasing animals with traditional bows instead of the modern compound. Hunters back then had to know the outdoors and be able to move incredibly quietly through their surroundings, because with those bows a shot at even 20 yards was a decently long shot. This meant you had to get right in with the animals. Since he was building his own equipment, he started to get a following of people who liked his stuff and decided there might be potential to make it a full-time income.

Why was Colorado the perfect place to set up shop?

For archery hunters throughout the United States, one of the biggest adventures you can go on is elk hunting in Colorado. It's hard to explain how it's viewed in the archery community, but it's kind of like the Everest of bow hunting. All of the legends in the industry would claim that the most intense thing you could do with a bow was find your way into the Colorado backcountry and chase those animals. Deer hunting is incredibly popular throughout the country, especially out East, but every archery hunter has dreams of getting an elk in Colorado. There is some mystique surrounding the difficulty of navigating an unfamiliar animal in steep terrain and getting close enough to get them with a bow. A big bull elk can weigh upward of 600 pounds. Plus, they have very particular patterns in the way they move at night, which makes getting an elk with a bow a massive challenge. Even people like myself who grew up here and know the animals can go a whole archery season without even getting a chance to lose an arrow. 

Do you have any favorite archery hunting spots in Colorado?

I love the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In my opinion, they are the best mountains in all of Colorado in terms of their beauty. They aren't as green as the San Juan Mountains, but many of them are imposing, to say the least. They are a notoriously difficult area to hunt because they rise in elevation so quickly and the elk are usually in hard-to-get-to areas, but when you get back in there, you often are all alone in some of the most beautiful areas in all of Colorado's mountains.

What is your best-selling item?

Our own line of arrows is a massive seller for us. Fleetwood arrows fly off the shelf, as they are affordable and durable. They aren't the most technical arrows on the market, but they allow the average hunter to afford a quality product. 

Does Western Archery host events?

Locally we do archery leagues at our shop throughout the winter. Tuesday and Thursday nights, people come into our range so they can keep working on their skills. This year we are also putting on a tournament in Colorado Springs. We are excited about this event because it is all traditional archers, and this year we have a course that requires you to run the course and shoot at 24 different targets at different distances and angles and such. [Editor’s Note: If that sounds like something you’re interested in, register online.]

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

The archery industry isn't about making millions of dollars. However, I've never worked in an industry where the people — both employees and customers — are so passionate about what it is they do. We do OK financially, but the biggest thing is we love what we do and where we get to do it. 

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