Mudjaw Bowmen aims to make family fun a bull’s eyeWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to summertime in the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan area, most residents partake in the usual outdoor activities of the season: camping, fishing, swimming, going to the park, playing sports like baseball, basketball and tennis, or hitting their favorite course to work on that golf swing. A select few, however, gather their bows and arrows over at 6240 Benore Road to participate in a sport that has existed for centuries.
That sport is archery, and that club is Mudjaw Bowmen. Having been founded in 1953, Mudjaw Bowmen has been at its current location since 1971 and is the oldest known private archery club in the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan area.
“I think the neatest thing about Mudjaw Bowmen is the camaraderie amongst the members,” Mudjaw Bowmen president Audrey Berning-Matell said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press. “When I started as a new member, I didn’t know very much about compound bows, even though I just purchased one. I didn’t know much about hunting, and through talking to some of the long-time members and older members and also newer members, I’ve learned so much about the sport of archery. It’s just the neatest thing to do. It’s something you can do when you’re young, when you’re a little kid and something that you can do when you’re older.”
Berning-Matell has been a member of Mudjaw Bowmen since August of 2001, after she and her husband received a brochure about the archery club while at another sportsman’s club and decided to check it out. Both avid fans of the outdoors who met while they were in college at Toledo, archery was a natural progression for the couple. Berning-Matell has been a board member at Mudjaw Bowmen since 2002, served as the recording secretary and became president of the club in 2008.
“I’m not the normal chick,” Berning-Matell said. “I love the outdoors, and I think the guys at the club really see that and they really respect me for that.”
The club is spread out over 64 acres of land that includes two archery ranges, a storage building, large clubhouse and a practice area. The field archery range uses paper or NFAA (National Field Archery Association) scoring targets and is intended for target archers, while the hunter range uses primarily hunting shots with either hand-painted animal paper targets or 3-D animal targets. Inside the Mudjaw Bowmen clubhouse is an indoor shooting range that spans 22 lanes with a shooting distance of 20 yards or less and six designated shooting lines.
The Mudjaw Bowmen summer league began on June 1st and goes until mid-September, while the winter league runs from typically the first week of January until mid-April. The club also hosts a yearly Wild Game Dinner each February, as well as its’ Annual Game Awards Dinner each April.
To become a member at Mudjaw Bowmen, there is a $50 initiation fee which gets you a key to access the building and the restrooms, while club dues are $75 per year. Twenty work hours are required each year, of which at least five have to be in association with one of Mudjaw Bowmen’s shoots. If you are a senior and retired, membership is only $30. Individuals between the ages of 18-25 also have a membership fee of just $30.
“We really want the younger generation to come in — the younger families — to see that we really are a family-oriented club,” Berning-Matell said. “Anyone can be involved in archery.”
The club has just under 100 members, including the likes of professional archers Jamie Van Natta and Ben Cleland, as well as members from as far as Montana to Pennsylvania. Mudjaw Bowmen has also been frequented by the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as the Broncos 4-H Archery Club and St. Ursula Academy Archery Club.
“The younger generation really needs to know about being outside, not playing all the video games,” Berning-Matell said. “Yes, there is life outside.”
This month, a 14-target NFAA papers shoot will take place on June 5th, in addition to a bow hunter education course on June 18th and Father’s Day Shoot on June 19th. The next general membership meeting will take place on July 6th at 7:30 p.m. For more information on Mudjaw Bowmen, visit mudjawbowmen.com