West Michigan Archery Center Opens
West Michigan’s world class archery facility had some world class talent show up for the Open House on Saturday, August 16th. The West Michigan Archery Center (WMAC) has a number of world class shooters in its program, including several national champions and an Olympian for a head coach. However, all present at the ribbon cutting ceremony and open house event were awed to have Darrell Pace in attendance for the day.
Mr. Pace won Olympic Gold for the US in both the 1976 and 1984 Olympics, but was denied the chance at a “3-peat” by the US boycott of the 1980 games. He has held every international FITA archery record at one time, and he won four consecutive national archery championships in the 1970’s. He and Glenn Meyers, Rockford’s Top Nock JOAD head coach, were Olympic teammates in 1984.
Saturday’s festivities included introduction of the West Michigan Archery Center’s Board of Directors, recognition of key donors and partners, tours of the facility and 3-D course, and information about current classes, leagues, and other activities at the center. Later in the afternoon, visitors from all over the region came to try out archery and learn from certified instructors.
Isla Danely, aged 4, came with her parents, Jason and Robin Danely. She stole the show, wearing a green dress just like Merida’s from the movie “Brave.” She tried her hand at archery with one of the WMAC’s certified instructors, Dr. Aric Smith, as did dozens of others.
Officials from Plainfield and Algoma Townships were present, as was a representative from the Easton Foundations, a key donor to the project. Doug Engh came all the way from Florida, where the Easton Foundations have another facility, to participate in the event and cut the ribbon. Mr. Engh was emphatic in his approval for both the facility and the programs offered. “What you have in this eager, competent volunteer base is a gold mine,” he said. The WMAC is on its way to being an “Easton Affiliate Facility,” which ties West Michigan to a national hub of elite archery instruction.
30 years ago, Fremont’s own Glenn Meyers participated in the Los Angeles Olympic Games. More recently, he kicked off the State Games with a flaming arrow sent from his bow in Fifth Third Ballpark. One of his pupils was State Games of Michigan “Sportsman of the Year” this year, and he has several national champion archers shooting in his club.
What could top that? A visit from “archer of the century,” Darrell Pace, for one. And a recent $10,000 grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation, for two. The Consumers Grant is in honor of Jamie Rus, a local archer who was nationally ranked as a shooter before a tragic accident took his life. Jamie worked for Consumers and lived in West Michigan, where his family owns Archery Unlimited. The donation in Jamie’s honor will display his name, in perpetuity, along with Consumers Energy in the new facility.
In September, new Intro to Archery classes will be held, and the next three Thursday evenings feature a “Dust Off Your Bow” 3-D league. As always, competitive archery training is twice a week, while public open shoot hours are Wednesdays from noon to 4, and Thursdays from 6-9pm. More information about this facility, which is an Algoma Township Park, can be found at www.wmarchery.org, and on Facebook.