Wapiti Bowmen Archery Club
Wapiti Bowmen was originally formed in 1949 by a group including Mel Schmidt, a close school mate and hunting buddy to legendary bowhunter and archery manufacturer Fred Bear, Maynard Thompson, Gene Lueck and Ed Neustal. The club used property on Totem Pole Road owned by Ralph Frames, and had a 14-target field course and a 50-target broadhead course. In 1964, Ralph sold the property and the club had no place to shoot. By 1965-67, the club pretty much went into a hiatus – never formally disbanding, but mostly becoming a memory.
With an interest in bowhunting, but finding no place to shoot, Jess (Jay) Stalcup and cousin Duane McKinney ran an article in the Lebanon Express in 1970 inviting local bowhunters/archers to a meeting with the purpose of gathering support to find a place to shot. Over 30 people attended that first meeting. Individuals interested in archery were able to start shooting indoors by October 1971 using the Lebanon Junior High gym. The school system needed a name for the group using their facility, so former Wapiti members suggested Wapiti Bowmen and some funds remaining from the original club were transferred to the new club. The rest is history!
Right from the start, the membership set objectives for the future of archery as stated in our Constitution:
1. To promote and encourage archery as a sport and recreation in the vicinity of Lebanon.
2. To promote archery facilities and properties for the mutual benefit of club members.
3. To sponsor competitive archery events and games.
4. To cooperate with Oregon Bow Hunters and other organizations to encourage the use of the bow in hunting all legal game birds, animals and fish. To protect. Improve and increase the rights of the bow and arrow hunters.
5. Promote and encourage bow hunter education.
Wapiti hosted a paper animal shoot in the Berlin area in 1972, but there was a strong desire to have a permanent range if the club was to prosper. In 1973, Harold McCraven approached Denny and Eva Dahlgren and Wapiti Bowmen entered into a lease for a new range on their property on Townsend Road in the Sodaville area. Wapiti Bowmen paid for one (1) ton of hay for the Dahlgren’s use as the annual lease “payment” for use of their property to offset the loss of grazing for their cattle. The club used this property for 30 years while developing the range to a full compliment of Field/Hunter course and Animal course, and hosting all types of local and state tournaments. Wapiti Bowmen also had access to neighboring properties to hold extended animal paper and 3-D animal target shoots.
By 1973-74, Wapiti Bowmen had started many programs, including the April-Invitational Shoot (Field/Hunter round), August Pow-Wow (later renamed Mel Schmidt Memorial shoot), and June-Shortcake shoot (renamed Strawberry Pro-Am). Wapiti Bowmen became chartered with the Oregon Bow Hunters and National Field Archery Association. The Bow Hunter of the Year Contest, Photo Contest, Member of the Year Award, an annual potluck dinner which became our banquet and our monthly newsletter were started during this period. The club sponsored a 4-H archery club and six Wapiti Bowmen members became Hunter Education instructors because some of our youth wanted to bowhunt.
Wapiti Bowmen was an early pioneer in putting on 3-D trail shoots in Oregon and the club recognized in the early 1980’s that 3-D trail shoots were its revenue source of the future. Wapiti Bowmen began putting 25% (recently increased to 40%) of monies from all tournaments and shoots into a separate account for purchase, maintenance and replacement of its 3-D targets. 3-D trail shoots now generate a substantial portion of Wapiti Bowmen’s annual revenues, not only for putting on the 3-D shoots but also supporting general club operations.
In August of 2000, a dream was realized when Wapiti Bowmen purchased its own property for an archery range and associated development, largely through the efforts of John Stone and Harold McCraven. In 2001, Wapiti Bowmen held our first 3-D shoot on our Beaver Creek property. Since buying our range property, a lot has happened in a short time. A practice range, parking lots, a covered picnic area, registration building, upgraded concessions, fenced children’s play area, new well, two 14 target (Field/Hunt/Animal) marked yardage field courses, a new access road and a recently completed covered area at the practice range to help keep members dry have all been developed. Some of those improvements were done with the help of grants, but all required major effort by dedicated Wapiti Bowmen members.
Future projects in the planning stage include an indoor shooting range and a permanent toilet building, and there is no doubt that these projects will be completed in the coming years. Until such time as a new indoor range can be completed, Wapiti Bowmen uses an indoor range at The Archery Hut for its winter indoor shooting activities.
Over the years, Wapiti Bowmen has had a strong level of state-wide archery involvement. Club members have often helped lead Oregon Bow Hunters (OBH) on the executive level with 3 Presidents, 3 VP Tournaments, 3 VP Bowhunting, 1 Secretary, 2 Treasurers, 1 Director of Hunting Games, 1 Midwest Director, 1 NFAA Director, 1 NW Councilmen with NFAA and a Bowhunter Education Chairman of Oregon.
Building on the strong foundation of the past, Wapiti Bowmen is strongly committed to the future of archery and bowhunting in the Lebanon area and throughout Oregon.Wapiti currently sponsors four 3-D shoots each year: March: Wet & Wild, May-Cinco de Arrow, June- Bonanza, & August- Mel Schmidt Memorial & Money Dot Shoot. The club has also hosted other functions such as fund raiser shoots, memorial services, weddings, family reunions, and annual men’s church groups campouts.
Building on the strong foundation of the past, Wapiti Bowmen is strongly committed to the future of archery and bowhunting in the Lebanon area and throughout Oregon.