BONNERS FERRY — Run. Shoot. Pack.
This is the motto of the Train to Hunt competition, born seven years ago by founder Kenton Clairmont, formerly from Bonners Ferry, from a desire to help keep hunters in shape, or improve their fitness, during the off seasons. What began as merely a website training program, quickly morphed into a competition, giving the hunters a proving ground in which to showcase their newfound skills.
“I have been a hunter on and off, throughout my life, hunting with my dad and my brother,” said Treva Rawlings. “Being a physical education teacher in my past, I thought that sounded really awesome, so I bought a bow to get more into hunting with archery rather than rifle, and also do this really fun thing with fitness, out in the woods, running around.”
“It’s like a crossfit style physical challenge with your bow, so you got components of running, so you need good strong cardiovascular endurance. You are lifting heavy weight at times, so you really need to have that strength, muscle endurance, and you are carrying heavy weight for up to two miles, so you need that strength-cardio-power-endurance. Basically you run, you shoot, and then you have a physical challenge, which cycles through three things that you just do repetitively,” explained Rawlings.
“I tend to like adventure,” said Rawlings, “so I took it on.”
The first time Rawlings competed at the national level in 2015, she was intent on winning. “I got in my own head and it created more anxiety for me,” she said.
Rawlings had just turned 40 years old and she placed third in the open women’s class, however, the two women who beat her were in their 20s. “So I was like, OK, I can hang with you guys.”
Rawlings chose to skip the 2016 nationals due to her niece’s wedding, but returned strong this year, winning the District Qualifier that took place in Moyie Springs, cementing her chances at Nationals, held at Powderhorn Mountain Resort in Mesa, Colo., on July 8-9.
“The biggest challenge this year I had to overcome was a health scare that interfered with my training for about six weeks,” Rawlings recalled. “I knew I had to be in good enough physical condition to engage in high intensity activity for about one hour at 8300 feet in 90 plus degree weather. My focus changed from winning, to my body working to the best of what I knew I was capable.”
The competitors faced a grueling competition, at high altitude, carrying heavy weights and facing obstacles that tested them to their utmost capacity. In the midst of this, they had to use bow and arrow accurately, taking out their targets.
“The goal is really to have the archer be physically fit so when we are out in the woods we are able to get up into the mountains, as high as the elk may be, or the mule deer, or whatever we are hunting. So we have the physical endurance to get up there- get up there fast- but then also to be able to steady your heart rate and shoot accurately,” said Rawlings. “Some people don’t like archers because if we don’t shoot accurately, we may maim an animal.”
“I did my best,” said Rawlings. “I didn’t get hurt. Everything just went right. I felt really good… and I won.”
Rawlings won the National Championship in the Women’s Master class, second in Overall Women’s, 15th place out of all 71 competitors, including the men, and shot first against all women.
Clairmont, the founder of Train to Hunt, overcame great obstacles himself, battling severe rheumatoid arthritis to create this program.
“A lot of people who are participating... they aren’t your athletes,” said Rawlings. “They are just your everyday people who might work desk jobs. They are motivated. They are changing their lives by getting out, losing weight, and moving their body. It’s kind of like spartan races, just motivating people to get up and move their body, and get up off the couch and have a reason... and an inspiration, to change.”