The sport of archery is enjoying a boom in participation.
On the trendy north side of Chicago, clubs and ranges are popping up, and bows and arrows are the latest fad. In Northern Illinois, archery is skyrocketing because of people taking it up for life, not just until the next temporary rage comes along.
Woodstock’s Tim Zimmerman and his TAZ Archery shop and range are proof positive of the growing popularity of archery and bowhunting.
Zimmerman first opened TAZ three years ago and has just moved to a new location in the past two weeks, growing from 2,800 square feet to 7,000 square feet at 11908 Catalpa Lane.
Zimmerman’s 35-yard-by-20-yard archery range is the largest in Northern Illinois.
Zimmerman has been married to his wife, Ann-Marie, for 14 years. They have two sons, Luke, age 5 and Nathan, age 8. Everyone in the family is an archer and the boys began shooting at 18 months old.
Zimmerman is rated as a professional archer, meaning that he won enough to climb through the amateur ranks to reach his elite position seven years ago.
He is a national 3-D archery champion. He used to compete twice a month, traveling to places like Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida regularly.
“I’ll get back into competition one day,” he said. “My kids and the store have taken up so much time. I don’t regret doing it, though. I’ve been shooting since I was 14. I used to hunt with my dad. At 19, I started working at archery shops. I’ve been giving lessons for many years. It just seemed natural to get into the world of retail, so I opened the store.”
Zimmerman rates a trip he made to Montana for mule deer with his father and brother as his all-time favorite hunting experience.
“You know, one of the reasons I did it was because I enjoy dealing with people, especially the kids. We devote a lot of effort at TAZ to teaching women and children the sport of archery.”
“Tim is really personable and he really loves dealing with kids,” said TAZ employee Parker Simes, of Woodstock. “He really likes to get them set up correctly and then teaches them and watches them shoot correctly.”
“You know, the last Olympics really got a lot of people interested in archery,” Zimmerman said. “Then you have the books and movie of ‘The Hunger Games.’ That was the next bump in popularity. This was all very good for the sport and good for TAZ archery.”
It is rumored that there are at least three more “Hunger Games” movies coming to the big screen. So interest could spike again.