At roughly 300 feet per second, Dakota Brunk has found roaring success.
That’s the speed an arrow flies when it leaves the young archer’s fingertips, destined for a downrange bulls-eye.
The Enumclaw teenager has moved to the top of the Evergreen State’s archery world, dominating the competition in his 15-to-18 age group. When the state’s competitive archers gather in October for their annual convention, there’s no reason to doubt Brunk will be honored as “Shooter of the Year” in his division.
Archery is more than just a casual hobby in the Brunk home. Dakota’s parents, Denton and Darcy, own Rock Creek Archery in Enumclaw. The shop, situated in an industrial area on Battersby Avenue, sells equipment, offers lessons and has an indoor target range. Rock Creek also sponsors competitive teams that test their skills – often very successfully – against others throughout the Northwest.
Brunk, 16, first picked up a bow and arrow when he was barely more than a toddler. Looking back, he figures “the bow was probably taller than me.”
He practiced hours every day at the family home – the business was still years from being launched – and became quite the young marksman. His father notes that Dakota still holds some Pee Wee division records.
Other interests came and went and archery was set aside. That is, until about a year ago, when Brunk jumped back into the sport.
“I like the competitive aspect of it,” he said, admitting that it’s a lot more fun when he’s winning.
And winning has been a constant companion. Through eight different disciplines of competitive archery, Brunk is an eight-time state champion this season. His favorite discipline is “safari,” due to its longer distances – up to 101 yards.
Competitive shooting also has kept Brunk on the move, spending very few weekends at home. Since the winter, there have been contests in places like Redding, Calif., and Eugene, Ore. He’s covered most corners of Washiington, heading off to Spokane, Camas, Mount Vernon and Darrington, to name a few.
It’s a long season, spread over 10 months, which leaves archers like Brunk two months to work on fundamentals and fine-tune their skills.
The sport, with its growing legion of participants, crosses age and gender lines. Competitive teams can be a mix of male and female, but when it comes to individual competition, its boys vs. boys and girls vs. girls. Age is no barrier to enjoying the sport, which has a “silver senior” division for those 80 and older. And, finally, the shape of an athlete isn’t crucial; some can be thin as a rail while others may have packed on a few pounds.
The biggest factor, Brunk said, is a willingness to put in the hours of practice needed to get as close as possible to perfection. Presently, Brunk said, he’s spending two or three hours a day, working to get the competitive edge that has separated him from the rest of the field.