Humans have been practicing archery for millennia. Its history as an essential hunting tool has evolved into a popular sport that over 20 million Americans enjoy each year. Archery requires patience, tactical strength and skill, earning its place as one of the earliest sports in the Olympics, added in 1900.
Boyd and Carol Wild call their new shop Archery in the Wild and have brought this ancient sport to Kremmling. Customers can find the shop down a windy, scenic road, secluded among pines. Stepping inside expect to browse a wide selection of bows and arrows, plus receive one-on-one tailored service from the Wilds.
The husband-and-wife team are both experts in the field of archery. They enthusiastically share their knowledge with anyone who steps into their shop, whether customers are longtime hunters or children ready for the shooting range.
“We’ve had our own business for 20 years,” said Carol. The Wilds have owned a popular shop and archery range in Longmont since 2002, but had dreams of moving their business to the High Country. They finally succeeded this February, hosting their soft opening last week. They’re planning a grand-opening barbeque once the snow clears.
Archery in the Wild is open by appointment Monday through Saturday. Since the shop is outside the town of Kremmling in Old Park, the owners ask customers to call ahead before arriving. Inside, both avid and newbie bow hunters will find everything from compound hunting bows to compound target bows to traditional bows, along with bowstrings from brands like Bowtech, Elite, Prime and Hoyt. Arrow brands available include Gold Tip, Easton and Victory. Round out your kit with sights, arrow rests, quivers, elk scent lures and more.
“We also specialize in custom strings,” said Carol, pointing out that customers purchasing factory-made bowstrings in a big box store won’t get the customization or high-quality material they can find at Archery in the Wild. String making is a craft which Boyd has perfected over the years. Boyd tailors the string to each customer’s specific bow, depending on how many strands they need, what type of material or which colors they’d like to use. He pre-stretches all his strings, meaning they will give a straight shot each time. Factory-made strings aren’t pre-stretched, which lowers consistency and requires continuous adjustment.
“It’s a lot of fun making string,” Boyd said. He explained custom bowstrings give customers more confidence, since they know that they were made to their bow’s exact specifications. Choosing certain colors can be important to people too, giving their bow a particular flair. Girls will pick out bright (colors), like teal and purple! Those are really cool to make, ”Boyd said. “You become so attached to your bow, and you want that baby to be perfect.”
Perfection is important for a deeper reason than looks or style. Bows and arrows, for all their attractiveness, are also weapons.
“We owe it to the animals for that bow to be perfect. If I know that when I pull back, I can’t humanely take out that animal, then I won’t even shoot, ”Boyd said. “When you’re hunting, you have to have confidence in the material of your bow.”
The Wilds make custom arrows as well. Some customers prefer traditional arrows with feather fletchings, while others prefer modern arrows with plastic vane fletchings. Fletchings are more than just colorful; they are an integral part of the arrow’s stabilization and spin. Feather or vane fletchings have their own benefit, depending on what the archer uses them for. For example, feather fletchings have more beauty than plastic vanes and stabilize the arrow better, but are less durable and can become damaged more easily by brush or rain.
Boyd added that feathers have been used for thousands of years. Early humans began hunting with arrows around 20,000 BC.
“All they needed was a stick and a string, and to make an arrow,” Boyd said.
Archery allowed humans to survive and advance; those who enjoy hunting today are following an ancient tradition.
In addition to their target shooting experience, the Wilds are also hunters. They have the head of an impressive buffalo mounted in the shop, which Carol took down with a bow at a ranch near Spinney Mountain Reservoir.
“It was really close to free-roaming; we couldn’t even see the fence, ”Boyd said. “We asked (the outfitter) if we could get as close as 30 yards, and he said there was no way we could get that close. He couldn’t believe that Carol shot it at 31. ”
Bow hunting requires a much closer proximity to the animal than rifle hunting, and the hunter must use stealth to succeed. Boyd uses the meat from all his kills – the 1,200-pound buffalo they took down awarded them 450 pounds of meat.
“For us, it’s not about killing, it’s about the journey and the cool experiences you have out there,” Boyd said of hunting.
The Wilds enjoy being part of nature and experiencing wildlife in a way that is otherwise inaccessible. Their love of the “wild” country is partly why they’ve chosen Kremmling as their home.
They’re much happier with the slower pace and mountainous landscape of Kremmling. They enjoy all the high country has to offer – beautiful scenery and friendly people, plus ample opportunities for fishing and hunting. Additionally, they have a history in Grand County.
“Our daughter moved to Kremmling first, so we started coming out. We thought, ‘What a beautiful country it is here!’ ”Boyd said. Kremmling reminds him of what Longmont used to be like when he was a boy, before it got too busy. “People wave at you and say hello here. Everyone’s really nice. ”