04/09/10 — Marsh: Father passes on love of archery to daughter

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Marsh: Father passes on love of archery to daughter

By Mike Marsh
Published in Sports on April 9, 2010 1:47 PM

Natalie Wagler is just four years old. She attends pre-school at Tarawa Terrace Primary School on Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Onslow County.

Like her father, Lance Corporal Travis Wagler, a 26-year-old Motor Transport Specialist, she has a passion for archery. Her first attempt at hitting a wild boar target was a success.

"I got him!" she said. "It was fun."

Travis Wagler is a bowhunter and a member of the North Carolina Bowhunter's Association. He and his daughter were visiting the NCBA booth at the Cape Fear Wildlife Expo held March 20-21 at the Best Western Coastline Convention Center in Wilmington. There were more than 100 exhibitors hosting in excess of 6,000 visitors over the weekend. Many booths and displays catered to kids, with the NCBA display attracting 450 youngsters on the first day alone.

"I've always supported the Bowhunter's Association," Travis Wagler said. "It's the only group fighting for archery in the state. Natalie has a Fred Bear Panda bow at the house. I think she's going to be a bowhunter."

Travis has had many successful deer hunts over the years he has been stationed at Camp Lejeune. He's served in the Marine Corps for more than 6 years.

Several members of NCBA from all across the state manned the booth, keeping a watchful eye on the Genesis bows and shepherding kids, moms and dads as they used the makeshift archery alley. One of them was Robert Cowan, president of the Cape Fear Bowhunters chapter of NCBA.

"The Genesis bow has a universal draw length," Cowan said. "It's the bow used in the National Archery in Schools program because anyone can use it."

The compound bows were eye-catching, their fiberglass limbs displaying a rainbow of colors in the bright sunlight of a warm spring day. A tent with a fabric arrow backstop secured a couple of 3-D archery targets, including the life-sized wild boar that had been such a big hit with Natalie Wagler when her arrow strike made a loud thunk.

Allie Newton is 13. A 7th grade student at Wilmington Christian Academy, she picked up a bow and arrow on a dare from her older brother, Chip.

"I don't hunt," Chip said. "But I will as soon as I can afford to buy a bow."

Coaching Allie Newton to success was NCBA volunteer Crystal Smith of Cary, N.C. She had met another member of NCBA at the Dixie Deer Classic and agreed to help out, catching the bowhunting fever going around the booth.

"I've got to complete my hunter education course this fall, so I can start hunting," Smith said. "Archery is so much fun, the next step is taking a bow into the woods."

"I don't know if I will go hunting," Allie Newton said. "But I hit the target. It was so easy."

"It's a typical reaction," Cowan said. "A lot of people who have never used a bow and arrow are surprised to discover how easy archery is when using modern equipment. When a four-year-old girl four can hit a target with an arrow shot from a compound bow, everyone watching wants to try."

NCBA supports bowhunting in many ways. The organization's goals are increasing awareness of the heritage and tradition of bowhunting, recruitment of members and other bowhunters to the sport, creating awareness of ethics and sportsmanship, fostering cooperation with biologists and conservationists, and having effective youth education and conservation programs. In regards to youth participation, the NCBA booth ranked higher than that of any other organization at the Expo.

"Archery is a great sport because the whole family can participate in the backyard," Cowan said. "Buying a bow, arrows and a target is inexpensive compared to getting started in most other sports and bows don't make noise like gunfire that alarms the neighbors. Ammunition for firearms is expensive. But once you buy arrows, you can shoot them over and over for free."

For more information about NCBA, visit www.ncbowhunter.com. For more information on the Cape Fear Wildlife Expo, visit www.capefearwildlifeexpo.com.