Melissa Bender, a resident of Le Roy, made history at the Pennsylvania Bowhunters Festival, after competing with an all-male crowd, becoming the first and only woman to win the steel boar challenge.
The festival is held in Forksville in the middle of September, every year since 1957. It is the oldest gathering of bowhunters in the world.
“People come from all over the place to go,” Bender said.
The three-day event offers a variety of shooting activities and events designed to prepare the Bowhunters for the upcoming archery season. The festival features the famous “Forksville Running Deer” target, mechanical bear and turkey targets, pop-up and moving small game targets, a timed clay pigeon shoot, stationary targets set at variable distances, and three game trails designed with all 3-D targets.
The grand prize for the steel boar challenge, was a wild hog hunt, which drew Bender to competing.
“It was really neat because they had never had a girl win it before,” Bender said. “They were super excited for me.”
Bender’s love for archery began after she went hunting with her husband.
“When I was out hunting, I hit a deer,” Bender said. “We tracked it for two days and we never found it.”
Bender decided that she wanted to be a better shooter, so she started with the help of a local archery organization.
“The people down there [at C&C Archery] are so willing to help anyone,” Bender said. “Especially young people in becoming better shots, either in archery, in competitive form, just for shooting, or just in hunting.”
C&C Archery, in Le Roy, has an indoor archery range, with all different kinds of targets. They offer a variety of services and products to help anyone be successful.
“If I hadn’t gone down there to sign up for [archery] leagues, I obviously would have never had the opportunity to win that challenge.”
Bender hopes to continue strengthening her archery skills to become a more ethical hunter.
“I want to have a better shot so that I don’t have to go through what I went through a year ago,” Bender said.