Aspen Archery widens business range

Though Aspen Archery is still occupying the same 6,700 square feet of space it had when it opened 2 1/2 years ago, the business isn't just an archery range any more.

Owners Ingrid Vawter and Gunny Benson have gradually added fishing equipment and supplies, virtual reality archery, guns and ammo and, just this month, archery league competition to make Aspen a year-round sporting center.

Snuggled in the rear of the 50 East Business Center, Aspen Archery gives outdoor enthusiasts several ways to maintain their skills during the off-seasons or to bring them back up to snuff before heading into the field after a trophy kill.

"We just started the archery league at the beginning of November," Vawter said. "It gives archers a way to keep their hands in when it's too cold and dark outside."

Competitors are scored individually and are handicapped, so even the newer ones have a fair chance in the league, Vawter said. Many who compete indoors on a weeknight are also members of area archery clubs which have outdoor weekend shoots using three-dimensional targets.

Firearms enthusiasts can now find a wide range of weapons, ammunition and accessories at Aspen. Besides conventional hunting needs, the store offers accessories and supplies for black powder shooters and the special ammo loads, paper targets and supplies for target shooting.

Another section of the store is devoted to rods, reels, lures, creels and anything else needs for a day on the bank of a Sierra stream or the shore of a high desert reservoir.

But there's no doubt that the main action revolves around archery. Seven practice target ranges can be set up for 20-yard or 30-yard distances.

Both Benson and Vawter are archery instructors and beginners can rent equipment as the develop their skills. Once a student is ready to select equipment, the store offers a complete selection of compound bows, target and hunting shafts and points, quivers, stabilizers, aiming pins and other equipment.

Both owners are also scout merit badge coordinators and run training programs for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. as well as other groups interested in the sport.

Benson has been hunting with both bows and firearms since he was 8 years old, he said.

He spent decades running the hunting equipment departments in such sporting goods chains as Gart and Yeager.

He prefers the bow hunting, he said, and pointed to Boris, a mounted boar he took with bow and arrow near Salinas, Calif., among the several trophies he displays in the store.

Vawter, though, gravitates to the target range end of archery. An enthusiastic golfer, she said she became interested in archery less than four years ago during a "corporate challenge" charity athletic event in Reno.

Aspen's commitment to help its customers improve their skills includes the virtual archery range, where a projector throws moving images of actual game animals at a Kevlar screen as archers shoot blunt-tipped arrows.

"There are sensors behind the screen that connect to a computer and keep track of where your shots hit," Vawter said. "You have to recognize what you're shooting at, pick your best shot and the computer printout tells you how well you do."

Recently Aspen archery invited the members of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce out to the facility for a mixer to show off the expended business.

Benson let a shaft fly at a target 20 yards down the target lane. The arrow didn't just hit the bull's eye - or the smaller circle inside the bull's eye.

Benson's arrow shot the tiny cross centered inside the small circle inside the bull's eye.

Aspen Archery

In the 50 East Business Park

3579 Highway 50 East

(Bear right at the entrance and go all the way to the back)

Noon-9 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays


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