Top Men and Women Archers to Compete at Holiday Valley

By Colleen Mahoney

Back for the fifth year, the International Bowhunting Organization World Championship will descend on Holiday Valley Resort on Aug 6-9. The World Championship is the final and most important competition of the season for the best-of-the-best male and female shooters in the world.

According to Dave Wisniewski, owner of Dave’s Archery in Erie, PA, the competition is broken into six different levels and then classes within each level, including non-competitive classes, youth competitive classes; entry-level adult classes; advanced amateur classes; semi-pro classes and professional classes.

“You’re probably going to see about 1,200 shooters” in Ellicottville, Wisniewski said. “And for some of them, this is all they do, all year long.”

To be a qualifier for World’s, Wisniewski said, an archer needs to be within the top 20 percent of shooters after the first, second and third legs of the National Championship Triple Crown.

Each class works differently, he said, but the class he will be competing in, Men’s Senior (MSR), consists of shooting 20 animal-like targets over two days, from different fields. The shooter has to guess the distance from their stake to the target, set their sights and shoot. Scores are determined by where the arrow hits the target.

In the MSR class, the smallest circle on the target is worth 11 points, the next biggest is 10 points, the outer ring is 8 points and you score five points for a body shot. Wisniewski said there are probably about 8-10 different courses on the slope.

Although Wisniewski says that some shooters have spent their lives training, there are a lot of amateurs and shooters who recently began in the sport.

Returning for another year, Jenna Senita has been shooting for just over 3 years, and has her sights set on reclaiming her title as shooter of the year.

“This will be my third time at World’s, and I’m in second place for shooter of the year,” Senita said. “I started out slow, but I’m doing pretty darn well.”

It was Senita’s boyfriend who got her into shooting, she said, much like other females in the sport. But once she started she fell in love with it and has been making a name for herself ever since.

This year, Senita will be competing in the Female Bowhunter Open class, which puts no restrictions on sights, stabilizers or style of release, with a maximum target distance of 45 yards.

“All the basics are very similar,” Senita said of a female versus a male shooter. “Everyone is different in how they shoot, but a guy can pull more poundage and have a faster arrow.”

Although it’s a “male dominated” sport, Senita said the female interest in shooting is building every year.

“Us girls are growing, slowly but surely,” she said. “It’s a close knit group, kind of like a family, and we’re always looking out for each other.”

And to help increase female interest in the sport, professional shooter Cara Kelly has started ArcHER in an effort to connect female shooters with each other and positively impact the female archery community. ArcHER looks to help women archers in all levels of competition. Senita said the organization has really taken off and has been a great tool for young women who are just getting into the sport.

Locally, fans and participants are geared up for another great year of archery in Ellicottville. Don Auge, owner of Auge’s Archery, said the competition definitely increases foot traffic in his store and gives him a chance to catch up with friends.

Auge, who also is Ellicottville’s police officer in charge, shot in the hunter class the first year the competition was in Ellicottville, but now keeps his shop open for serious shooters.

“You think you’re a good shot until you go up there,” Auge joked.

Each year, he said, sales have been increasing when the IBO is in town, and he allows archers to use his tools to fix their equipment. He’s also picked up some friends along the way, he said.

With a shooting range behind his Great Valley business, some competitors will stop by to practice or try something different. Auge explained the targets in his 3-D pop-up range are computer operated, which is different than what most are used to. Each target lies on the ground, then the computer will stand one up for a few seconds, before it lays down again. Auge said the hard part is that the shooter has no idea which target will stand up when. The novelty of it all brings shooters to his business.

“Last year we had about eight people come one night, then the next they brought like 19,” he said. “They’re all really good people; they just come down to shoot.”

For more information on the IBO World Championship, visit To learn more about ArcHER, visit To reach Auge’s Archery, call (716) 945-7286.