Draw back to your roots

Travis Nanaeto draws back his compound bow and aims at the target.
Jania Jackson concentrates on her target during the archery tournament.
Brittany Pena takes her shot with a compound bow while her husband Alex Pena, SunUte Recreation Manager, Kevin Winkler and Archery Coach, Ernest “Muz” Pinnecoose watch her shoot.
Ambrose Valdez focuses on his target at Scott’s Pond.
During the archery tournament, Sal Valdez, who took first place in his division; holds his bow steady before he releases his bow to the target.
Alex Pena keeps his eye on his focal point.
Ernest “Muz” Pinnecoose draws back and stays focused on his intended target.
The winner in his division and overall, Christian Hodges holds a solid form before his release.
Christian Hodges receives his prizes for winning his division and overall.
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum

Archery is one of the oldest sports in the world, it has been around for over 25,000 years. Bows and Arrows are the most iconic weapons used by Native Americans and were used primarily for hunting and fishing. These weapons are accurate, and provided long range, in addition to the ability to shoot rapid shots, while on foot or horseback. The training involved with using a bow and arrow was extremely time consuming; it was necessary for hunters to become expert marksmen and they developed their skills in the use of bows and arrows as children.     Within the Southern Ute community archery is still alive and thriving; with youth and adults becoming more interested in the sport. On Sunday, Sept. 8, SunUte Community Center held a 3D archery tournament along the Bear Trail in Ignacio, where people of all ages participated for a chance to win gift cards from the sporting goods store; Good For The Woods.

During the 3D archery tournament there were 12 participants shooting recurve, compound and long bows. The course had over 10 targets placed along the Bear Trail, along the Pine River. All the participants shot one arrow at each target and the score was tallied up at the end of the course to determine the winners of each age group as well as the overall winner. There were archers as young as three who attempted some targets.

Archery participant and tribal member, Alex Pena has been shooting a bow since he was a little guy. “I love archery because it’s a sense of release for me, it’s therapeutic and fun. It makes me feel and think about the people of our past and how stealthy and accurate they had to have been to survive,” Pena said. His bow of choice is a recurve bow because it’s a lot harder and requires a different type of focus and drive to be successful. He is also a bow hunter and has harvested game. “Being just a few yards away from an animal you are trying to harvest is such an amazing surge of adrenaline; it’s almost like time slows down as soon as you release the arrow and its path is highlighted by the fletching,” Pena said.

Tribal member Ernest “Muz” Pinnecoose was a participant in the Senior Hunter Class and also a long time archery coach for local archers. He chooses to use a traditional bow, “to me its simpler and because our ancestor’s utilized these tools, I have been shooting bows since I was a young boy and I would make my own out of willows, and arrows out of cattails.” Pinnecoose has been teaching for close to 40 years and has had 300-400 students. He has coached for the North American Indigenous Games and has had several students that have obtained medals, including one who has attained two consecutive gold medals. “The most rewarding thing about teaching youth, and even adults, is seeing the smiling faces when they hit the target for the first time, when they have basic skills — they have that forever.” Most of all, Pinnecoose enjoys teaching the safety aspects of the sport.

Bow hunting continues to grow in popularity especially in the most recent years. It has become one of the fastest growing sports according to an article on gohunt.com. Within the community there are outlets to get involved and learn. Reach out to SunUte Community Center for learning experiences as well as future tournaments. Goods For The Woods also has a range and all the equipment and supplies for purchase. Most importantly remember safety is always priority.



If you’re interested in learning to shoot always remember safety first!


  • Inspect your bow and arrow.
  • Always make sure the target is clear of people and aim at a target.
  • If your shooting at a range, be sure there are backdrops.
  • Never run with your bow or arrows.
  • Watch your surroundings.
  • When you retrieve your arrows make sure everyone is done shooting.
  • Wear safety gear.
  • Bow and arrows are not a toy, even toy bow and arrows. Always teach proper safety.

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