Becoming a Bowhunter |

Becoming a Bowhunter

Collin Szewczyk Post Independent
Collin Szewczyk Post Independent |

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The desire to hunt is ingrained in our DNA. For millennia, humans have pursued prey for food, clothing and sport — and throughout that history, the bow and arrow have been essential to the survival of the human race.

Use of the firearm was first recorded in 1364 in China, while estimates of bow and arrow use date back tens of thousands of years.

For those interested in learning how to be a bowhunter, a program is now offered by the Colorado Bowhunters Association (CBA) that teaches the skills needed to become proficient with a bow. The classes will be held in five different regions across the state, and the northwest region’s course will be held around June 1.

Becoming a Bowhunter is a three-phase system that allows would-be archers to progress at their own pace.

Locally, the class is taught by Northwest Regional Manager Walter Krom, who has spent 51 years hunting with a bow, and has a passion for teaching others this ancient skill.

Krom, 73, grew up 10 miles west of New York City and has lived in Glenwood Springs for the past 7 years. However, his experience includes guiding and hunting in six Canadian provinces and nine states in the U.S., including guiding for an outfitter on the Flat Tops in the 1970s.

The program was born after a “Partners in the Outdoors” meeting, which was hosted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and attended by members of various groups who were concerned that less and less people were enjoying the great outdoors.

“The CPW found that many people were falling out of the ranks of those who enjoy recreating outdoors, so we got together with about 50 organizations, including Trout Unlimited and the Wild Turkey Federation, and mountain bikers and ATV people, and had a meeting,” Krom said. “The CPW said they wanted everybody to come back with something they can do in their particular area of expertise to entice people to get in the outdoors. The bowhunters came back with Becoming a Bowhunter.”

The only requirements to begin the program are the participant must be at least 10 years old, be able to pull a 35-pound bow and complete the Colorado Hunter Education class before enrolling.

The first phase of Becoming a Bowhunter covers basics of bowhunting, introduction to archery, history of archery, equipment review, safety factors and learning to shoot. Participants must then pass a test to move on to phase 2.

Phase 2 focuses on teaching the student how to hunt. Tracking, tree stand hunting, blood trailing, 3-D target practice in a natural setting and shooting competency are all covered. Phase 2 includes a bowhunter education course that is different from the state’s hunter education course.

In this phase, students will be expected to prove their proficiency in stance, drawing the bow and anchoring, aiming, accuracy, shooting targets uphill and downhill, shooting from a blind and tree stand, and safety, among other facets.

“They must exhibit that they can shoot and be accurate,” Krom said.

There are currently 12 people signed up for the course and graduation of phase two comes with membership into the CBA.

Accuracy is very important, as phase 3 will take aspiring bowhunters out into the field for a mentored hunt on private land. The local hunts are conducted on various ranches throughout northwest Colorado. The ranch owners will only let participants of the program, who have proven their aptitude, on the land for the hunt.

“They don’t want people coming on their land who are going to just start throwing arrows around,” Krom said.

The 3-day hunts will take place before and after the regular bowhunting season.

Participants will focus on scouting techniques and preparation for the hunt in phase three prior to the actual hunt, as well as decide the manner of hunting they plan to do, whether it’s from a tree stand or “spot and stalk.” The hunter will pursue antelope, turkey, deer or elk. Game recovery will also be covered.

Phases one and two of the program cost $25 each, while phase three costs $50. The program’s funding comes from donations, while the fees cover administrative and material costs.

Krom works with instructors in the program, each of which are either NASP (National Archery and School Program), NFAA (National Field Archery Association) or US Archery Association certified. The CBA also works closely with CPW on the administration and set up of the courses.

Participants will be provided with equipment during phase one of the program, and instructors will then help students select gear to purchase in phase two.

The closest bowhunting pro shop is Red Rock Archery in Clifton. Bear’s Archery Guns & Prospecting LLC, 6600 Highway 82 in Glenwood Springs, is a local option for gear as well.

Why bowhunting?

Bowhunting is a sport of stealth and skill. Rifle hunters can target their quarry from hundreds of yards away, while bowhunters must get much closer to make a successful shot.

Due to the closer proximity, a bow hunter must learn to be still and blend in flawlessly with his or her surroundings.

“I like the up close and personal aspect of bowhunting, Krom said. “You have to get within your effective range. I don’t shoot anything over 40 yards. I like the challenge of getting close.”

Sometimes, you can even get too close for comfort.

On a stone sheep hunting trip to British Columbia, Krom got stuck overnight with his kill when the plane that was supposed to pick the group up didn’t show.

“We were stuck out overnight in grizzly country with a fresh killed sheep in our backpack … that was hairy,” Krom said. “The bush pilot had problems with the magneto on his plane and couldn’t come to get us.”

Luckily for Krom no hungry bears walked into his camp, though they did cross some grizzly tracks on a river bank the day prior.

But not all archery has to involve hunting animals … or them potentially hunting you.

For those who may be interested in archery, but not necessarily hunting live prey, the program is a wonderful way to receive expert instruction in an increasingly popular sport.

“We are finding that there is a goodly number of women and young girls who want to get involved in archery,” Krom said. “Not specifically bowhunting, but archery because of [the film] the Hunger Games.

“Shooting three-dimensional targets placed in a wooded setting is as close to hunting as you can get,” he added.

If you’re completely new to bowhunting, but want to learn, the program is a great way to learn a new skill and meet a wonderful group of outdoor enthusiasts.

“This program is geared toward somebody who has never bowhunted before,” Krom said. “Or people who have hunted with firearms but want to get into bowhunting.

“It’s a thrill and a challenge, that’s why I do it,” he added.

Applications for Becoming a Bowhunter are available from the CBA’s website:

Practice makes perfect

The South Canyon Archery Range is located in South Canyon, on the south side of the Colorado River at the first left. The range is open every day of the year. It currently offers a stand to rest your equipment on and several targets at varying distances.

Plans for some upgrades are in the works, such as a canvas tent to get out of the sun and tune your bow in and picnic tables for the family to have some lunch while target shooting. The site, which is wheelchair accessible, was built with donations from Friends of the NRA, the City of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, CPW and the CBA.

Another option to hone your skills with a bow is being offered by the Glenwood Springs Parks and Rec Department. An archery class is offered to sixth-to eighth-grade students, from 4- 5:30 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays, beginning on May 6 and going through May 29. There will be no class on May 27. The course takes place at the ice rink at the Glenwood Springs Community Center and will focus on eye dominance, safety, proper shooting techniques, grouping consistency and scoring. Basic learner equipment is included and some classes will be held at the South Canyon Archery Range — transportation will be provided.

The cost is $50 for Community Center members and $62 for non-members and preregistration is required. Krom instructs the class, teaching the art of proper archery form, and sets up and maintains the archery equipment.

“Archery is a game of form, similar to golf,” Krom said. “If your form is not good, your ball is going to go all over the place. It’s the same for archery. If your form is not good and repetitious, your arrows will go all over the target.”

If you’d like to donate to the Becoming a Bowhunter program or the South Canyon Archery Range contact Walter Krom at 970-319-5887 or email him at

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation dinner this weekend

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is having a fundraising dinner at the Ramada Inn, 124 W. Sixth Street, in Glenwood Springs this weekend. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 4. Single and couple supporting tickets are $75 and $115 respectively. The tickets include a meal and membership into the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Raffles and auctions for firearms, bows and bowhunting accessories, artwork, outdoors gear and dream hunting trips will also be featured.

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