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Bowfest, a 3D archery event near Duluth, aims to be a big draw

Alex Comstock walks along a woodland trail to retrieve the arrows he shot into a 3D target from nearly 70 yards away. Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service1 / 5
A Dall sheep target on a hillside below one of Bowfest’s shooting stations. Many of the festival’s targets are partly hidden and require steep uphill or downhill shots. Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service2 / 5
Archery expert marc Dilullo talks about the Bowfest’s courses while standing on a trail near a shooting station. The courses make use of Mont du Lac’s terrain. Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service3 / 5
Alex Comstock, social media specialist at Mont du Lac Resort, prepares to shoot an arrow at a 3-D target of an elk set up nearly 70 yards away. The target is one of 80 3D targets set up on four different courses at Mont du Lac for the three-day Bowfest shooting festival. Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service4 / 5
Larry Kline is the director of marketing for Mont du Lac. Steve Kuchera / Forum News Service5 / 5

DULUTH—Alex Comstock pulled back on his bow, steadied his aim and let fly an arrow across a steep gully.

The 57-yard shot was perfect, nailing the 6 x 6 bull elk right in the sweet spot. And it was the second bug bull he shot in 10 minutes.

Of course, Comstock was shooting at foam targets and not the real thing — testing out a couple of the 80 different outdoor 3D archery targets available at Mont du Lac Resort July 27-29 as part of the second annual Bowest event.

Bowfest is billed as the largest outdoor 3D archery shoot in the region, aimed at bowhunters who want to test their skills in real-life hunting situations. It's timed just seven weeks before archery deer hunting season starts in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The event is also a celebration of the outdoors and country music, with big-name concerts, camping and a weekend of archery experts, manufacturers and celebrities.

"We're trying to do something unique to bowhunting,'' said Larry Kline, director of marketing for Mont du Lac — a ski and snowboarding hill in winter that's being transformed into more than 400 acres of archery fun.

"The goal is to get the archer together with the manufacturer,'' Kline added, adding that there will be plenty of new equipment on hand to try out.

Mark Dilullo, an Iowa-based archery expert designing the courses, said 80 targets will be divided into four 20-target courses that each take 2-3 hours to complete. Archers will walk through the steep hills and valleys at Mont du Lac and can shoot from either beginner, hunter or pro stakes — like tees on a golf course — at each target.

Be prepared to walk through and shoot from challenging terrain — in deep woods, down and up steep slopes and across ravines.

"We tried to make this as realistic as possible to actual hunting situations. And, shooting from the pro stakes, it's going to be very difficult. Not necessarily long shots but difficult shots,'' Dilullo said.

Bowfest started in 2017 as the idea of Larry Pulkrabek, who owns Mont du Lac and whose bowhunting businesses have marketed popular archery products such as the Ravin crossbow and Field Logic targets in Superior. He has since sold Field Logic and the company is now called FeraDyne.

Last year's event drew about 350 people, Kline said. Organizers hope to attract 2,000 or more people this year.

"We're trying to make this the biggest outdoor 3D shooting event in the country," Kline said.

"With the level of entertainment we have, and the bow hunting superstars, we feel like we can really make this thing take off and grow to be one of the biggest events in the Twin Ports."

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