Just show up. Just show up with your kids on a Saturday morning. Just show up with your kids on a Saturday morning at Knight Trail Park in Venice and you can enjoy a walk in the woods and a free archery lesson from instructors with the Lekatchka Archery Club.
There is one catch, though.
“I make the parents shoot, too,” says Don Jackson. “It helps them bond — archery is a very touchy-feely sport — and they can help each other out on the course.”
Lekatchka has 65 beautiful acres of land east of I-75 in Venice. Oaks, pines and palms shade paths that lead to a series of targets. The club has beginner and expert programs for adults and kids. Some families begin with the weekend program for absolute beginners. That’s how Debbie and Anna Krieger got started.
Anna, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, calls archery cool and outdoorsy. She and her mom just bought their own bows. Now they’re club members.
“In the beginning, I used to shoot really high and to the left,” Anna says. “I was pulling it, but I just got over that.” She plays the guitar and sings in chorus, but archery is something different.
“I get to be outside more,” Anna says. “Doing something I really enjoy."
Rambo to Katniss
Jim Adam, vice president of the archery club, explains that Lekatchka means “broken arrow” in Seminole. Pop culture helps draw young people to the sport. Adam points to three big things.
“In ‘Rambo,’ when he shoots the grenades at those barracks,” he says. “Then ‘Lord of the Rings’ and now ‘Hunger Games.’ It’s really peaked, archery.”
On weekdays, Lekatchka works with a group of home-school parents called Generation Harvest. Weekends are busy for everyone else. Annual club dues are $100. Lekatchka has 100 members and a mailing list of about 600. Some young archers compete all over the state.
On club work days, members repair targets and use leafblowers and chainsaws to maintain practice areas and courses in the woods. You can’t hear much traffic from the nearby interstate, but there is the faint pop-pop-pop of gunfire from other kinds of ranges at Knight Trail Park.
“We see deer and turkey out here, and hogs — hogs are all over,” Adam says. “It’s a beautiful course. We aim to make it one of the best courses in the state.”
The Lekatchka Archery Club offers lessons for kids and parents at 10 a.m. each Saturday at Knight Trail Park, 3445 Rustic Road, Venice, east of I-75. Ages 8 to 85. Free. 587-9427. lekatchkaarchers.com.