3D archery range touts stress-relieving value of a hike with bow in hand
Roger Thein, owner of Lone Wolf Tree Service in Saukville, would be the first person to tell you that his day job can be very stressful.
Dangling 50 feet from rigging and harnesses to make sure a broken tree limb doesn’t go crashing through someone’s roof can be tense and dangerous.
That’s why when Thein needs to kick back, he likes nothing better than taking a relaxing walk in the woods — shooting arrows into the chest of a virtual black bear or stegosaurus.
Thein, who is also a taxidermist, has combined his love of nature and archery in his newest business venture, Broken Arrow 3D Archery.
Two days a week, he opens a 1-1/2-mile trail on the grounds of the Saukville Rifle and Pistol Club, 4191 Bluegoose Rd., challenging archers with realistic targets at 28 shooting stations.
The targets include quarry hunters might encounter in the woods of Wisconsin, such as deer, bear and turkey, along with some exotics, including an alligator, rattlesnake and dinosaur. Archers can even take aim at a legendary jackalope.
The concept behind the three-dimensional target range is to replicate the hunting experience in a natural setting while encouraging archers to hone their shooting skills.
“I started bow hunting three years ago and really love it. However, as I went out hunting, I was amazed to see how many hunters lost wounded animals because they failed to make a kill shot,” Thein said.
Thein has already bagged deer and a buffalo during his archery expeditions, and still hopes to down a bear.
On his trail, shooting stations are calibrated to the size of the target, so archers can simulate taking a shot from about 60 feet away.
He said the trail does a good job of replicating the experience of a hunt, although shots are taken from ground level. That is not his favorite vantage point for hunting.
“Because of my job, I am very comfortable in trees and I’ll set my stand 30 or 40 above the ground, higher than most bow hunters. It can be so peaceful up in the trees,” Thein said.
“I’ve watched a lot of deer, turkeys and coyote walk by and never even take a shot. It is just interesting to see how they behave when they don’t know they are being watched.”
Thein said bow hunting is becoming increasingly popular, especially in more populated areas where there are strict restrictions on hunting with rifles.
There are plenty of private shooting ranges for fans of firearms, but he saw a need for similar challenges for archers.
Thein approached officials at Saukville Rifle and Pistol Club and worked out an agreement to offer the archery trail on their 70-acre
He researched his options and settled on high-end Rinehart targets made in Janesville. Each target is crafted from patented self-healing foam using replaceable inserts for the “kill zones,” the areas of the animal’s body where the vital organs are located.
Although Thein has assembled quite a menagerie of targets on his range, the company offers even more big game options — including charging elephants and sauntering giraffes.
“As it is, I have about $13,000 worth of targets in the field,” he said.
The trail has proven popular with archers of all skill levels.
“We get shooters with all kinds of equipment, including compound bows, long bows and even crossbows,” Thein said.
The target range opened this summer and was originally available on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The weekday option failed to draw many shooters, so Thein altered the schedule to Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We get between 10 and 15 people shooting on Saturdays,” he said.
It takes about 1-1/2 hours to set up and again to take down the target stations. Brush has also been chopped down to give shooters clear shots, and area is sprayed for bugs, something that is not likely to happen in the wild.
The trail is open to the public, but club members can shoot at a discounted rate.
Thein said the shooting range and his tree service keep him from becoming a fanatic about the sport.
“I definitely don’t get out as much as I would like,” he said.
Thein said he was introduced to tending to trees by his father, but learned most of the nuances of the trade on the job.
“I worked for Trak International, but when they closed I decided I wanted my own business and started Lone Wolf Tree Service,” he said.
“Today, I have a crew of three people and we put in 40-plus hours a week. We service properties from Oconomowoc to Egg Harbor.”
Cutting down trees in an isolated forest might be a free-wheeling affair, but Thein said removing limbs or entire trees around carefully landscaped properties requires a lot of planning and calculating.
“It can be a dangerous job if you don’t know what you are doing. I have found that you seldom have problems with difficult jobs because you plan them so carefully. When you are likely to have problems is when you are working on a simple job because you tend to take a little too much for granted,” Thein said.
Depending on the complexity of the job, removing a tree can cost between $150 and $7,500.
His tree service has developed a good reputation with insurance companies, to the point where his quotes on tree removal are often the only one an adjuster will require a homeowner to get, Thein said.
Similarly, Thein said he has developed a close network with roofers and electricians, if a tree-related emergency should strike.
“We offer 24-hour emergency service. If a storm knocks down a tree onto your roof or power lines, we’ll be there right away and the contractors will make sure it is safe to get back in the home and get the power back on,” Thein said.
The business also handles routine jobs, like seasonal trimming, tree transplanting and stump grinding.
Thein said the physical nature of tree work makes the target range very appealing.
“This business takes a real toll on your body,” he said.
ROGER THEIN FINDS that taking a walk in the woods is a great stress reliever, even when it means encountering beasts like this stegosaurus. Thein has transformed his love of archery into a new business venture, Broken Arrow 3D Archery. The trail is on the grounds of the Saukville Rifle and Pistol Club. Photos by Sam Arendt