ALLENWOOD - A lifelong interest in archery, championship titles and collegiate-ranked shooters - these words accurately describe the staff of Drop Tine Archery, 14325 S. Route 44, just north of Elimsport.
The staff collectively has 100 years of experience.
The shop is a 15,000-square-foot space that harbors a video, 3D and paper shooting range, stocks four of the top brand names in archery, offers extensive servicing and repair for all archery brands and sells a variety of accessories.
David Strayer, manager and co-owner, said the shop started when he, his wife Laurel, and their friends and co-owners Renee and Nate Earnest were throwing around business ideas one evening.
In 2010, the decision was made to start the shop. Permits were filed and ground finally was broken in August 2011.
Strayer pointed to a head mount of a white-tailed buck at the back of the shop. Sporting a large drop tine on its left side, it is the store's mascot and namesake.
"Nate shot that buck in Ohio in 2004. Three other drop tines were broken off," Strayer said.
The deer scored 204 5/8 points in the Boone and Crockett system.
What makes the shop special isn't its large square footage and products. Instead, it's the staff who genuinely cares for the sport of archery and wants to be able to share it, and their knowledge of it, with others.
Archery is for everyone
It's evident from the staff and recent gathering of shooters that archery isn't just an adult man's or an avid hunter's sport.
"We want people to understand that archery can be enjoyable to anyone," Strayer said. "You don't have to be hunting to enjoy archery and you don't have to be a man, or an adult."
The staff at Drop Tine agree that archery is a growing industry and is beginning to really open its arms to women and kids who may want to hunt or who just enjoy shooting.
"You can walk through the door and tell us, 'You know what? I am never going to hunt,' " Strayer said. "We are going to say, 'That is fine. We are not here to make you a hunter.' "
"Archery has come a long way and it's no longer a man-dominated sport. The number of women and children in the industry is growing," Renee Earnest said.
"It's something families can do together, especially with everyone working so much and people not (having) time to do things as family. It's something fun," she added.
On every Friday in June, the shop held Couples Night, hosted by the Earnests. Every Friday in July was Ladies Night.
Families have joined shooting leagues together and compete with each other at Drop Tine.
"It's a facility where they can come shoot and be ready for the season. And, in the winter months, it can give kids and parents ... or the whole family ... a place to shoot and have fun and keep themselves tuned up and ready to roll," Strayer said.
"And, even so, I think they enjoy coming here and shooting with other people," said Laurel Strayer. "They compete with each other and help each other."
"I think it gives them drive," her husband added.
Getting young children and women involved in archery is what the shop's staff shoots for (pun intended).
"It teaches kids ethics from a hunting aspect ... like shot placement ... on the animal. Your technique makes a big difference," Nate Earnest said.
If hunting isn't what a newbie has in mind, that's OK, too.
"There are a lot of people that don't necessarily want to take an animal but love to shoot," Dave Strayer said.
The shop hosts a few leagues and shoots on its 3D range. The range consists of 30 foam targets of various animals - including a dinosaur - at different distances.
There is a full 40-yard shot in that range, which Strayer said is pretty unique for an indoor facility.
"You have to judge the distance and make the proper shot," Earnest said. "It works on sighting and form and properly judging the distance."
Shots have been taken from standing, sitting in chairs and hunkering in blinds during the competitive league shoots held at the range.
"(It) makes it more hunter realistic," Earnest said.
The 3D targets' positions are switched weekly.
The shop is developing more events for the future. Leagues are available now for the video, paper and 3D ranges.
The video range is set up in a darkened corridor at the shop where a 20-yard shot is taken at an 11- by 11-foot screen.
The screen shows film of real animals in their natural habitat, sometimes moving around.
"It's a real hunting scene projected on the screen and you use your real bow and real arrows with a special tip," Strayer said.
When the shooter takes a shot, it immediately is scored.
"It's super addictive," he added.
The range, which can hold up to six shooters who compete against one another, is rented by the hour.
In the paper range, archers stand 20 yards away from a target that has three bullseyes. It helps shooters practice and perfect form, technique and consistency, Strayer said.
"We also have a training room that is designed to take anyone, from first-time shooters to someone that doesn't want to shoot in front of others," he said. It also allows for shots from 20 yards.
Bows sold in the shop can be tested at the range prior to purchase, and the indoor ranges also give shooters a place to practice skills in the winter months in preparation for the next archery season.
Strayer said it's important for those who want to hunt in the fall archery season to keep their game up in months such as July and August. Those months are pretty warm, but the indoor range offers a cool place to practice.
Each of the store's employees are skilled and experienced in archery.
Nate Earnest is a certified bow technician and archery specialist. His wife and fellow co-owner Renee also is a certified bow technician. They have been shooting together for 25 years and both hold titles and championships.
"Ninety percent of us have all been in the hunting industry and know the ins and outs of hunting techniques and the proper equipment, the proper tuning," Nate said. "So we can actually take a walk-in that may have no clue and get them on the right course."
It's important for the staff to teach ethical aspects of the sport, especially to someone who is archery hunting.
"That goes for the competitive side, too," Nate added.
Two Pennsylvania College of Technology students also work at the shop.
"This is Ashlee (Mull) and Nicole (Lapinski) ... they are on the Penn College shooting team," Strayer said, introducing them.
Lapinski, of Bloomsburg, is ranked sixth collegiately in the nation.
Mull, a South Williamsport resident, is 13th in the nation collegiately.
Drop Tine also helps the two young women with their competitions, providing products, service and a place to practice their skills.
Famed outdoorsman and show host Michael Waddell, of the Outdoor Channel's "The Bone Collector," visited the shop to assist with the open house on May 5. More than 700 people came that day.
"We had a great time. He came in on Friday night and we went out for dinner. Nate and I took him turkey hunting on Saturday morning," Strayer said.
Waddell decided not to hunt that day because he didn't have a Pennsylvania license, but Nate and Dave did.
"He ended up calling in two turkeys and Nate and I shot both of them," Strayer said.
The two of them met Waddell before that at a Archery Trade Association show. Waddell was pleased to come to the open house.
On Aug. 4, the shop will host another cast member of the show - Travis "T-Bone" Turner. The public is welcome to come and meet him.
Events will be held throughout the day including:
A youth archery shoot for ages 10 to 16 at 2 p.m.;
A barbecue cookoff hosted by on-site vendor House of Bacon; and
Product specials and giveaways.
For more information, visit www.dtaproshop.com or call 547-0440.