STOCKTON – Gary Coit knows bows.
Compound bows – the type most commonly used for hunting – to be exact.
As an owner of Jerry’s Archery Shop in Downtown Stockton, Coit spends his days chatting with customers about everything from new strings and pulleys to arrow tips – especially with California’s deer season currently under way.
And while the Olympics typically mark a surge in interest in niche sports like archery, it was a Hollywood blockbuster that brought in the customers looking to dip their toes into a new sport.
“We’ve sold a lot of the recurve, or longbows, with movies like The Hunger Games lately. We’ve been selling the heck out of those,” he said. “It’s not that expensive to get set up – about $130 – so a lot of people are looking to get into it.”
But that’s not to say that the Olympic longbow shooters aren’t welcome at the popular independent specialty shop.
One particular model that retails for just under $1,200, Coit says, is exactly the same model that you’ll see the experts shooting for gold medals with.
Some purists in the sport, according to Coit, only prefer to shoot the recurve-style bows and consider anything else to be an abomination – almost cheating with all of the sights and enhancements that make hitting a target easier.
He doesn’t see it that way.
“It’s not true. It’s just different,” he said. “Most hunters prefer compound bows because you have to get a lot closer to your target. We set up the sights to range from 20 yards to 80 yards so that’s the window you normally have, at least to be accurate.
“I’ve been doing this a while and the technology has changed drastically with these over the last few years. You don’t get that same jarring feeling that you used to, and that makes it a lot easier.”
For the last 21 years, Coit’s father, Jerry, has shared his love of hunting with other like-minded souls that appreciated the purity and the skill required to hunt with a bow.
For the last week he’s been away the shop on a hunting trip in Colorado – out-of-state trips are common with most of the customers since California’s deer population isn’t typically known for its size.
Examples of California and out-of-state bucks and bulls line the walls beneath the plentiful bow selection, and a handful of mounts demonstrate what years of experience can bring.
While Coit says that the thrill of the hunt is unlike anything else, just getting out is enough for him.
“Just getting up in the woods and out of town is what it’s all about,” he said. “Seeing game is a rush and it definitely gets your blood flowing. It’s not like gun hunting – you need to be closer and a lot quieter. It’s something that I love.”
— JASON CAMPBELL
209 staff reporter