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Photo by Deb Gau
Steve Swanson of Slayton took aim at a foam target at the Saratoga Archery Club on Saturday morning.

AMIRET — The bullseye wasn’t the thing to aim for at the Saratoga Archery Club this weekend. Instead, the people headed out into the woods around the clubhouse were looking for foam targets shaped like everything from elk and moose, to a giant mosquito.

While some of the targets were humorous, scoring a good shot was still tricky for archers.

“We like to make it look natural,” said archery club president Todd Nelson. There was plenty of hilly terrain and trees to make things challenging.

The Bob Reiter Memorial Shoot, held Saturday and Sunday at the archery club, brought together archers from across a wide area to test their skills.

“With bowhunting, it’s more of a challenge,” said Slayton resident Steve Swanson.

Steve and Travis Swanson, also from Slayton, said they were introduced to bowhunting by family members, and had been coming to events at the club for years.

This weekend’s shoot featured more than 40 targets, arranged along different courses at the archery club. Archers could get a better score depending on where they hit the targets, and from how far away they made the shot.

A total of 69 adults and 10 kids participated in the event over the course of two days. Nelson said the “3D shoot” generally brings in people from around a 40-mile radius, although some visitors came from farther away.

Kim Grabowski, a teacher at the Kato Public Charter School in Mankato, brought a small group of students out to observe as she participated in the 3D shoot. As she stopped at each target on the course, Grabowski explained how aspects of the competition worked.

“This is 40 yards,” Grabowski told students as she pointed out a marker for archers to shoot from. “This is double the distance we normally shoot at.”

Grabowski said she first got interested in archery through hunting, now, she said, “We’re trying to get kids into the sport.” Coming to the 3D shoot would help introduce students to different types of archery events. “It’s a lot different than what students are used to doing,” Grabowski said of the 3D shoot.

Nelson said the 3D shoot honored the memory of Bob Reiter, one of the Saratoga Archery Club’s founders back in the late 1950s.

“It was nine guys that started the club,” Nelson said. Each of the founding members invested $900 of their own money to help form it, he said. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Founding members like Reiter and the late Harold Halfmann continued to be involved with the club even after their shooting days were over, Nelson said.

Nelson said the Reiter Memorial shoot has become an annual event for the archery club after Bob Reiter died in 2019. The group hopes to make a memorial shoot for Harold Halfmann into an annual event, too.

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