Local archer hits the mark in competition

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Local archer hits the mark in competition NORTH CAPE MAY – Tom Higgins has two passions in life – teaching history at Lower Cape May Regional High School and traditional archery.

The 52-year-old North Cape May resident has been shooting archery since he was a young boy, but it has been the resurgence in the interest in traditional archery with the publication of books like “The Hunger Games” that has captured his imagination.

“Traditional archery has Zen-like qualities to it,” Higgins said. “Without sights or anything to aim the arrow with, one must become the arrow. It is also a great way to release stress.”

Higgins said he goes to the archery range after a long day of school and shoots 100 or 200 arrows. Unlike modern archery with cameras, release aids and sights, traditional archers shoot either recurve or long bows without sights and without releases, he said.

“You just shoot the arrow off the shelf, using your fingers as a release,” Higgins said.

The goal is to develop instinctive shooting habits, he said.

“Instinctive shooting is a lot like throwing a baseball or a football,” he said. “You don’t use sights when you’re having a catch with a friend either, you just know instinctively when to release the ball.”

Higgins placed first in the “Last Man Standing” competition at the Bigfoot Open archery shoot, hosted by the Black Knight Bowbenders and Traditional Archers of New Jersey. In the competition, 50 archers shot two arrows at five different sized targets at different distances. Archers scored when their arrow struck the target in the designated scoring area.

After each round of shooting half the participants with the lowest scores were eliminated. After three rounds Higgins had the highest score and was the last man standing.

“I didn’t shoot particularly well in the first two rounds,” Higgins said. “But I fell into a groove in the last round, shooting a high score of 70 out of a possible 110.”

The next stop for Higgins is the Eastern Traditional Archery Rendezvous in Potter County Pennsylvania at the end of July. He plans on competing in the “Eagle Eye” competition.

Some of the best traditional archers on the East Coast will be in attendance, so it will be a real test of my skill,” he said.

Higgins credits Guy Kanas, owner of Fletcher’s Corner Archery Supply and Target Range, for allowing him to develop his skills.

“Guy not only has an indoor range, he also hosts Tuesday night 3-D shoots at lifelike facsimiles of real game animals,” Higgins said.

He said archery is a low impact, social activity that can become a lifelong pursuit. Many people who have grown accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle, or who may not excel at traditional athletic pursuits, find a niche in archery, Higgins said.

“It’s a good sport for couch potatoes,” he said. “Generally, you have to walk from station to station during a shoot, which not only gets the heart going but gets the participant out in nature as well. The sport is relatively inexpensive with much of the cost front loaded in the price of equipment and a bow. It is also a good sport for developing discipline, muscle memory and concentration skills.”

Atlantic Cape Community College has a competitive team for students enrolled in their school, Higgins said.

“Give archery a try, it can become quite addictive,” he said.

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