BLOOMFIELD — The 1950s wasn’t just about rock n roll, Elvis, diners and poodle skirts. It was also about archery.

Since 1953, Wapello Chiefs Bowmen has formed a group of archers, making it one of the oldest clubs in Iowa.

On Saturday, July 27, 50 archers from all over the Midwest came to the annual tournament to shoot as many targets as possible. Shooters ranged from young kids all the way to elders.

Archers enjoyed their time at the tournament. Mike Boomer, 52-year member and veteran archer, especially enjoyed his time. “It’s a nice place to practice and the weather is beautiful,” Boomer said.

Bowmen’s member Michael Paris agreed, “You cannot beat the weather, it’s a beautiful day to shoot a realistic target in a realistic hunting situation, with a deer standing 25 yards away. There’s plenty of stuff to do. You get some fresh air and there’s always someone serving food and drinks.”

While both members enjoyed their time at the tournament, they did hope more people would come.

“More people should come, just to experience it,” Boomer said.

“You get a lot of bow practice for hunting season,” Paris said. “You don’t have to be a hunter to shoot archery. You can shoot archery just to shoot archery.

One may think 50 archers constituted as plenty, however, Paris said 120 archers usually participate in the annual tournaments.

Despite the growing popularity of archery in southeast Iowa, membership for the Wapello Chiefs Bowmen has declined. “Our membership is going down because most of the people who have been members for years and years are getting older,” Paris said, “we do need more membership and younger people.”

Boomer and other members are working hard to increase membership. “I wish they (archery in school programs) would get more involved, “Boomer said. “They claim that archery is going to be larger than little league baseball in 10 years, yet it’s not transferring outside ranges.” “We want more kids. I don’t know why the disconnect is there. We are working hard to get them involved here.”

Paris said some benefits to becoming members of Wapello Chiefs Bowmen are the prices. For instance, a single adult would pay $10 instead of $12 if they became a member. Families would only pay $20, a one-time fee to shoot targets.

Prices aren’t the only benefits to becoming a member. Getting family time and having different target locations to choose from are other benefits. “Archery is a family event,” Paris said. “You take your family, friends and spend half the day walking through the woods and shooting at animals (plastic animal targets). “There’s some places to go shoot 3D on the weekends within 50 miles.”

Members are also free to pursue different activities. “A lot of people don’t even realize this exists“ Bommer said. “By being a member you have access to 80 plus acres and do what you want. If your a member you can come out go camping, shoot or do whatever.” 

Children also get benefits. Whether they become a members, kids will get the opportunity to go to Kids Camp on September 15. The cost is $15. Paris said there will be crafts, opportunities for them to shoot and 3D targets. “It’s a good deal,” Paris said, “It gets you out into the woods, some exercise and a challenge to shoot a bow. It’s a learning process. We also supply the bows and give away two bows to kids who don’t have one.”

Interested members can sign up at one of their shoots (made available at http://wapellochiefsbowmen.com) or come to their monthly meetings, held on the first day of each month.)