Love of the bow brings hunters together

12/9/2013

By KELTON BROOKS

By KELTON BROOKS

kbrooks@gctelegram.com

Two hunters were bound together by the interest of a bow. One has been bow hunting since 1998, and the other purchased his first official bow the same year.

The sport of archery has been around for centuries, and is best done in lit areas to locate your target, but Isaac Armstrong and Mike Park want you to take your game to the "dark side."

Darkside Archery, that is.

"Every bow should fit like a pair of shoes," said Mike Park, co-owner of Darkside Archery. "Every time you put them on, you know what it is going to feel like, and you know what you got. That's what archery is; it's doing something over and over again. It's repetitious."

So why the name Darkside Archery? There is no ghostly tale or cryptic secrets, only a story of finding the best bows around.

Park and Armstrong said the name came from a joke at an archery tournament. They tried to get someone to shoot their new Mathews bows, and the guy said that he couldn't switch from his Martin brand and go to the "dark side". The name stuck, and the two carried it over to their new business.

Mathews Bows can only be found in stores, and are not allowed to be shipped or sold online.

"People would say, 'man, I have to go to the dark side to get those, but we already had them, so we got called the Darkside," Park said.

Armstrong said the owner of Mathews is an ex-pastor and called on them in a meeting to explain the name.

"They were a bit reluctant to give us a dealership because of our logo and name," Armstrong said, co-owner of Darkside Archery.

"We basically had to stand before them and say this is why it's called the Darkside and let them know we're not some sort of atheist or gothic group. A lot of people were reluctant to come in when they saw the skull cloaked in the dark hood, but rather than using a bow and arrow for a logo, we wanted something people would remember. It appeals to the younger crowd, and the older crowd is really coming around to it," Armstrong said.

Right off Fulton Avenue, 150 N. Industrial Drive, Darkside Archery has been up for a little more than two years.

They offer bow tuning, bow setup, custom arrows, and archery equipment. Besides the up-and-coming shop itself, Armstrong and Park said their new 20-yard indoor range that was built in September has made life easier for a lot of hunters. Fees are $8 for unlimited shooting time and $6 for unlimited shooting time for High Plains Archery Club Members.

"For hunters who don't want to shoot deer, antelope, bobcats or buffalo, they can come right in and shoot targets in the range," Park said. "What people don't know about us it that we have a family environment."

The archery has a lounge for kids or adults who come in to watch friends or families shoot, has a popcorn maker, comfortable seats and a large TV for movies.

"Kids mean a lot to us," Park said. "If they need something and can't really afford it, or mom and dad don't know their kid's hobby, if we have something that will help make them better, we're willing to say, 'Hey, try this, or use this,'" Park said.

Armstrong added that he has talked with someone at the Garden City Family YMCA, and the organization is thinking about bringing the youth archery program to Darkside Archery for practice sessions.

Both Armstrong and Park have children, and both said archery is more than just the bow and arrow, it's also about giving back to the community.

"To me it's awesome to introduce a child to the outdoors and watch your first eagle fly by, first bobcat, or covey of quail that go scurrying by you — things like that, they won't forget," Park said.

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