First let me say, the 8th annual Howard Hill Classic was the second shoot hosted by Terry Harris that I have attended. It will not be my last! Now for those that don’t know, the Howard Hill Classic is a traditional archery only, 3D shoot and competition hosted on the historical Tannehill State Park near McCalla, AL.
The brain child of Terry Harris, the Howard Hill Classic began in 2003 and has since grown in size and popularity. This year the event took place from May 31st through June 3rd and as you will read this was the perfect week for the shoot. The shooting competition is broken into the normal Traditional Classes: Recurve or Longbow, Mens and Ladies and then for the youngsters there are Junior, Youth and Cub classes. The winners of the men’s and women’s classes took home a new Howard Hill Longbow, compliments of Howard Hill Archery. This year there was also a second competition that was named the “One shot – One kill” round. This was specifically for “Hill Style Longbow” shooters only. For this round on straight limb longbows were allowed and only wood arrows could be used. A special stake was located at each target and typically the distance was between 7 and 10 yards further than the adult stake. Other differences included more obstructions to shoot through and varying angles to the target. I shot this round and I must say I loved the challenge! It was a much more difficult round and I personally felt it represented more realistic hunting type shot opportunities, which is the primary reason I attend these events anyway.
While Terry and his team set the course and manage the event, he does rely on the help of sponsors and these were identified at various targets throughout the course. Many of these sponsors were also present at the event and were located on vendor row. Terry does not require a vendor fee from vendors to set up and display their products at the event which results in a large number of vendors for participants to visit and learn about products and services and to purchase items or place orders for specialty items. This is actually one of my favorite parts of the shoot because I get to catch up with friends I have met, usually over the phone, from all over the country. The following is a list of sponsors from the 3D range that I jotted down as I was walking the course. I hope I do not miss anyone.
• Northern Mist Longbows
• Back Porch Traditional Archery
• Howard Hill Archery
• Black Widow Custom Bow Co
• Lang’s Sporting Goods
• YUMI Archery
• Acadian Woods Bows
• Three Rivers Archery
• PREDATOR Bows/Hunter’s Niche
• Gold Tip Arrows
• Electronic Awards
• Hicks Taxidermy
• Big Jim’s Bow Co.
• Hunter Image Productions
• Harrelson’s Traditional Archery
• Summit Treestands
• Byron Ferguson Productions
• Ferguson ZBows
• Copperhead Bows
Now if all this isn’t enough! An added benefit of the Howard Hill Classic is that the event also raises money for the Boy Scouts of America camp that is adjacent to Tannehill Park. To date Terry has raised over $16,000 for the camp. So not only do you get to enjoy a top notch 3D shoot but you are also helping to support a great youth organization as well.
In the weeks leading up to the shoot I heard many different things about what to expect. Heat and humidity was the predominant warning along with warnings about crowds and long waits between targets. Well, my family and I arrived to find neither the case this year. The weather was absolutely beautiful with lows in the mid 50s and highs in the mid 70s. You simply could not have asked for better weather for an outdoor activity. So far as the crowd and wait times while shooting. Well there was a lot of archers at the event but the only wait time I witnessed was when I was ready to begin the first round and this wait was less than 10 minutes. Once our group started to shoot we moved freely and only had to wait if the group ahead of us had to search for an errant arrow. Kudos to Terry Harris and his team for managing the logistics of the shoot so that things ran as smoothly as a well oiled machine.
My family and I arrived at the park around 9am, paid our admission fee to the Park Rangers and then found a nice shady spot to park as we planned to have a picnic style lunch later in the day. We then, my daughter and I, grabbed our bows and began making our way down vendor row.
I had a dozen arrows to pick up from Pat Carter of Back Porch Traditional Archery and planned to do this before we started the shoot. At the same time I was talking to Pat, my daughter was picking up a brand spanking new Northern Mist Classic longbow from Steve Turay. (That is another story in itself so stay tuned) If you ever want to see the absolute best of human nature spend some time watching folks in the Traditional Archery Community when they see a child interested in the sport!
After shaking hands with Pat Carter and Steve Turay and catching up with each other for a few minutes we headed out to the practice range to limber up and make any needed changes. Plus I was trying to “dial in” my new arrows. As it turned out the first points were too light, for me that is a good situation to be in. Eventually I got the arrows dialed in perfectly and ended up using these new arrows when I shot the “One Shot, One Kill” round.
After a few arrows at the practice range we head to the start of the course. The rules required no group smaller than 3 shooters, so we teamed up with Jim Quinn of Foley Alabama for the next couple of hours. Jim and I had never met before but I look forward to the opportunity to shoot or hunt with Jim in a future. I quickly learned Jim is a super guy and we had a lot of fun and great conversation while shooting the course.
The course was well set up and easy to navigate, if I had to guess the majority of the targets were in the 18-22 yard range for the adult stake. Most of the shots were pretty straightforward but a few did have the challenge of some rock formations that could play havoc with arrows. The trail around the course was easy to navigate and if I had to guess I would say the distance traveled was probably around a mile. There were a total of 25 targets on the course ranging in size from the common Whitetail deer and Wild boar to larger animals such as Elk and an American Bison target that was my daughter’s favorite. The Bison and the Elk were at longer ranges than the smaller targets making them a bit deceptive to some. Of course my 11 year old proceeded to center punch the Bison in the 10 ring both times she shot the course.
As our group was navigating through the course we would randomly have conversations with the group that was behind us and the 3 gentlemen that were shooting in front of us. Now the group shooting ahead of us included Jeremy McBeth and Logan McBeth from Picayune Mississippi. They were shooting and representing Team Louisiana Outdoors. Now, while it is fun watching anyone shooting a 3D course it is especially fun when everyone is having fun and these guys were having fun. Then as if Howard Hill was there watching over our little procession I hear the unmistakable sound of a arrow striking another arrow at high speed. Jeremy had centered the arrow previously shot into the target by his Nephew Logan. Now they say the odds of shooting a “Robin Hood” are about 1 in 10,000 shots. What are the odds that one would occur while I am participating in a 3D shoot named after the man who made the term “To Robin Hood an Arrow” famous? I was told Jeremy went on to win the Men’s Longbow competition with a score of 236.
At the end of the shoot I had made some new friends, spent some time with old friends and most importantly had a good time with in the outdoors with my wife and daughter. My daughter had an absolute blast and by the end of the day on Saturday she was completely worn out. Despite being tired, the smile on her face told you everything you needed to know about how much she had enjoyed herself. I believe Mr. Hill would have surely approved.
If you missed the shoot, you missed a great one but never fear you can correct that mistake in 12 months when the 9th Howard Hill Classic comes around. In the meantime, don’t forget that Mr. Harris also contributes to another event held at Tannehill State Park called the Pre-Spring Arrow Fling. This event which is held in February is co-hosted by Comptons Traditional Bowhunters and Allsouth Archery Association. You can bet you will see me at both events in 2013.
Be sure to watch the Howard Hill Classic website for information about next years event.
May all your arrows find their mark.