WESLACO — For Joe and Hannah Hernandez, their father and daughter quality time is precious, and spending it together learning archery made it better.
The Weslaco natives were first-time visitors to Estero Llano Grande State Park, which has been hosting a summer archery program for three summers now.
“For the summer, we tried to do some activities and try to look for something that is different than going to the movies,” Joe said. “My daughter has always taken an interest in the ‘Hunger Games’ movies and liked the whole concept of archery, so a few years back we were watching the movie and she expressed that she would like to do that one day.”
The archery range was created three years ago by Lucas Cardenas, a Troop 100 Eagle Scout, who was doing a service project at the park.
The idea was to provide another amenity to the grounds while Cardenas was working to achieve scouting’s top rank.
Jose Uribe, lead interpreter and natural resource specialist at Estero Llano Grande, said money for the archery setup was raised by the troop and then donated to the park’s friends group, which is a nonprofit.
“He (Cardenas) raised about $5,000 and the equipment itself cost over $3,000, and he raised enough to put the canopy,” Uribe said.
The father-daughter pair arrived 15 minutes before the start of the archery event and said it was a perfect bonding experience.
“It’s perfect for her to try something different and grow some skill and just have some fun,” the 35-year-old father said.
Similar to his daughter’s interest, he was also eager to try archery. As a Valley native, he has seen the popularity of bow hunting in the area.
The 13-year-old also added, the sport has been a lot of fun and she enjoys the father-daughter competitions, and with the removal of being indoors and away from technology, doing archery is just focusing on her with the bow and arrow.
Joe expressed Hannah does very well in school, and by doing outdoor activities this is like an outlet for her to be relaxed and clear her mind.
Despite fighting the summer heat, Uribe said the participants range from adults to young children, mostly families and some college kids.
“Whether you don’t have any knowledge on archery skills or you do have them, it’s still a good program to spend some outdoor time here in the state park,” Uribe said. “One of things that we want to do at the park is to create diversity in our programs. We don’t want to allocate things let’s say for the birders, but it’s not only birders we want the audience to be. We want have all sorts of people of different skills whether they have knowledge.”
As archery is a precision competitive sport and recreational activity, Uribe begins his sessions with an explanation of the rules. Once a person excels at aiming toward the bullseye, he challenges participants to compete against one another.
If you plan to attend a session of Archery 101, it is held Saturdays at Estero Llano Grande State Park from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
The program will be held until September and participants must be 8 years and older.
For more information on the archery program, visit their website at www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/estero-llano-grande, or call (956) 565-3919.