Bismarck’s own Nishu Bowmen Archery Club, which is named after an old Native American word for “straight to the mark,” was first officially recognized in the 1960s. In collaboration with the Bismarck Parks & Recreation District they aim to hone archers’ target shooting, hunting, and competition skills at both their outdoor and indoor ranges, the latter of which is open year round to members.

“I have always preferred archery for hunting,” explained Doug Kruckenberg, president of Nishu. “Having to get so close to your game right before you take it gives you an adrenaline rush that’s hard to describe. Bowhunting totally absorbs you in the moment, while you fight off chills and shaking as you focus on that one, single thing. It attunes you to nature, and yourself, in a way which I’ve never experienced while holding a rifle.

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“Archery has a long history, dating back to even before when we started writing it down. It’s so ancient that it’s a part of who we are as humans.

“Kids especially benefit from archery. It’s accessible and safe for them, and thanks to the National Archery in the Schools Program most kids have already been introduced to the sport. A kid who practices archery learns better discipline and focus in ways which quickly become apparent in their self-esteem and schoolwork.

“We’ve got a lot of kids in our club who’ve developed adult skill levels in archery. One of our members is a high schooler who started nocking arrows in the seventh grade. As a member of the Compound Junior Dream Team he competes across the world, and just represented America at an international event in Ireland. That’s quite a distinction to bring back home to Bismarck!

“We have a lot of seasoned members, but our real passion is helping newcomers on their way to mastering archery as well. We volunteer our time to conduct classes during the spring, summer, and early fall right before hunting season. One of our members, Lee Hetletved, is a level four USA Archery archery coach and instructor, which is the highest rank one of our members has ever achieved. He is intimate with the same style that an Olympic level competitor would use, and has worked with all of our trainers extensively to make the programs we offer that much better as a whole.”

Nishu is open to the public three days a week from December through April, and their highest level members receive key cards so they may access the indoor range practically any time they like. The state of the art $900,000 facility is a far comfier place to work on your aim than the outdoors are this time of year. You can learn more about Nishu, including their upcoming events and tournaments, by visiting nishubowmen.com.

While I had Doug’s attention, I had to ask him my most pressing question concerning archery: whether the exploding arrow from Rambo II is real. “Sure, you can put explosive on an arrow,” explained Doug. “That’s how Bo and Luke blew up the outhouse on The Dukes of Hazzard. We don’t use those at Nishu, though.”

 

By David Scheller