It s a long way from the archery ranges at Cleland s Outdoor World in Swanton to Michigan, Oklahoma and Colorado, and it s even farther to Turkey.
But 15-year-old Ben Cleland, of the Cleland family of shooting champions, has been to all three states and is headed overseas to Turkey for the 2008 World Games next month, all because he consistently is able to shoot arrows into very tight clusters on bull s-eye targets.
He s got more talent with a bow that I did at his age, said Matt Cleland, a former champion archer and Ben s uncle. His dad, Chad, is a champion rifleman. Their family operates Cleland s Outdoor World on Airport Highway.
Ben is a kid that has the uncanny ability to commit himself to a goal, said Chad. I never have to tell him to practice, If he is not shooting his bow, he is shooting a rifle or a shotgun. He prepares all his own equipment for a tournament.
Chad noted that in June at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association s championships, Ben won the intermediate offhand rifle title with a record score. A year young, he still competed with 16 to 21-year-olds.
A sophomore at Evergreen High School, Ben last month went with his uncle to the national archery championships, international-style, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He competed with 16 to 18-year-olds and finished second in his first year of competition, Matt noted.
That finish, in combination with his places in various tournaments across the year earned Ben a place on the U.S. Junior Olympic Archery Team for 2009. A day after the nationals, Ben competed in the Junior World Team trials and ended up placing on the U.S. Junior World Team that will be competing in the world championships in Kunda-Antalya, Turkey, next month.
Ben earlier took first place in an Oklahoma event, in which Matt Morris, a Cleland s store employee, finished seventh. Another member of the Cleland archery program, Derek Schmidt, finished eighth. The three archers won the team event there.
In the Colorado competition, Morris finished seventh and Schmidt 13th behind Cleland s second. In the world team trials, Morris finished sixth, qualifying as an alternate to Cleland.
My brother and I, combined, have almost 65 years of competitive shooting experience, Chad said. We have had good teachers ourselves, but we still have done it all right and all wrong a time or two. We give Ben as much of our knowledge and shooting experience as we can.
Still, he says, his son sorts through it all, modifies advice for his own use, and has made himself a world-class shooter. Stay tuned.
The Detroit River Hawk Watch has turned in some impressive numbers this week on the sunny, cool back side of the cold front and passage of the remnants of Hurricane Ike, as suggested in this space last Sunday.
On Tuesday, for example, 58,690 birds of prey among 12 species were counted by the trained observers of the Hawk Watch, who are stationed waterside at Lake Erie Metropark and Pointe Mouillee State Game Area about 15 miles north of Monroe, Mich. More than 58,000 of the birds were broad-winged hawks, which tend to migrate en mass.
A Hawk Fest is planned this weekend at the metropark. For details call the park s Marshlands Museum at 734-379-5020. Daily hawk counts can be viewed on-line at smrr.net.
Last Friday s sixth annual benefit Blast and Cast Tournament, sponsored by Owens-Illinois, raised some $50,000 for the Erie Shores Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Owens-Illinois Inc. is proud to be the lead sponsor for this yearly event at the Millsite Farm retreat in Castalia, Ohio, stated Andrew Curran, development director for the Scout Council.
Thanks to their generosity, 100 percent of all proceeds contributed to this event will go directly to the support of Boy Scout programs, Camp Miakonda and Pioneer Scout Reservation within the Erie Shores Council, which covers Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, and Sandusky Counties.
A total of 21 five-member teams representing some 35 local and area donor businesses were fielded at the trout-fishing and shotgun-shooting retreat. Another 50 volunteers helped make the day run smoothly, despite steady rain and mud.
Teams competed for fly-casting accuracy and scores on clay targets at skeet, trap, Five-Stand Sporting Clays, and trap/flurry.
Yellow perch fishing on western Lake Erie has been wind-inhibited again this week, with most inside water well-muddied.
Some limits of medium-size fish were taken mid week on the south side of Rattlesnake Island, said Rick Catley at Rickard s Bait on Catawba Island, and John Jokinen at Jann s Netcraft reports some fishermen slugging it out in muddy water two miles off Little Cedar Point in 14 feet of water, taking limits that take time to catch. But when winds lay back, perch anglers are making the long runs, 14 miles or more offshore to clean water.
Catley added that some charters are taking half-limits of walleye in seven to nine feet of water off Gull Island and Kelleys Island shoals when winds permit.