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NMSU program coordinator gets back on target as competitive archer

Date: 09/03/2015

Man standing with bow drawn
Vince Engling, program coordinator with New Mexico State University?s TRIO-Upward Bound Program, practices archery, his hobby of 25 years, at the Archers of El Paso club. (Courtesy photo)

By Tiffany Acosta

Can you imagine hitting a dime-sized target with an arrow from 40 yards away? For sharp-shooting Katniss Everdeen from ?The Hunger Games,? it might not be a problem, but for Vince Engling, that is his challenge as he prepares to return to his long-time hobby of archery.

Engling, program coordinator with the TRIO-Upward Bound Program at New Mexico State University, has participated in the sport for 25 years. His father, who is also a bowman, introduced Engling to the activity.

?It was my dad that got me interested,? he said. ?I thought this wasn?t going to be very exciting, but the first time you hit a bull?s-eye, it?s like ? wow, this is pretty cool stuff.?

Archery has many skill levels and classes. Engling is interested in 3-D archery, which involves shooting at scoring rings on artificial animal targets, and he competes in the open class.

?For the last three years, I haven?t shot a 3-D course, but I?m going to get back into it,? he said. ?I?ve been practicing. For me, the most challenging thing about getting back into the sport will be judging distance.?

A typical course can include 30 targets. Engling said he and a group of three to four friends usually shoot two courses. The bowman with the most points wins the shoot, and the scoring system is based on different sizes of target rings.

Engling, who celebrates 24 years at NMSU this month, also said he hopes to attend a shoot in Ruidoso or El Paso soon, after practicing in his backyard or at a local range. He said he enjoys archery because of the camaraderie in the sport and has missed his friends during his stint away.

?It?s a fun hobby,? he said. ?It?s a nice release from everything to get together with a group of friends and have a good time on the course.?

Archery clubs in the region typically hold events every month in El Paso, Las Cruces, Ruidoso, Tularosa, Silver City or Juarez, Mexico. Engling added that friends are often the best resources for sharing techniques and equipment tips.

?The other day, I was messing with my arrows and there is a lot of fine tuning when you are shooting a bow, a lot of technology is involved, ? it?s not always about having the latest most sophisticated equipment,? Engling said. ?There?s a lot of tuning involved and secrets that go into making your bow perform at the best.?

While Engling may be returning after a break, in the late 1990s he had reached the semi-pro level and competed in shoots across Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

The humble El Paso native mentioned, ?there was a shoot I won every month for a solid year, and I don?t know if that will be repeated again.?

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