Arrows, taxidermy at Floyd’s Barbershop: Rise of archery in Illinois

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Cheyanne Williams sets up at Antler Ridge Archery and Taxidermy.
Credit: Dale Bowman

ST. ANNE, Ill. — Frank Williams looked over Station Street from a wooden table behind the indoor range at Antler Ridge Archery and Taxidermy.

‘‘This is Floyd’s Barbershop of Mayberry,’’ Williams said. ‘‘If there are people who don’t come in for a few days, I call them.’’

That shows in the newest development at Antler Ridge. Williams bought the storefront two doors east and is redoing it as an indoor archery range with 24/7 access.

It’s another example of the economic and social impact archery and bowhunting for deer have in Illinois.

‘‘Once you’re going in for the year, you get a key,’’ Williams said.

That’s right. With membership, archers will have their own key to shoot at any hour at the new range.

‘‘It is going to be an affordable thing, $150 [a year],’’ Williams said. ‘‘It’s a smorgasbord. There’s something in there for everybody.’’

He plans several leagues, indoor 3D and TechnoHUNT.

‘‘By October, we will be flinging arrows in there,’’ Williams said.

It has been a trip for Williams. He went from being a construction worker to doing full-time taxidermy from home. He is much awarded in taxidermy and was the president of the Illinois Taxidermist Association.

About 2½ years ago, he read about trends in archery and opened Antler Ridge. Shooting leagues filled quickly. The winter was capped at 72 and the summer at 40. The new range will allow for many more.

‘‘I see a lot of people bringing kids in, definitely an increase,’’ he said. ‘‘Parents are starting to wake up a bit.’’

The family business — his wife, Brenda, came back with Smoke, their pet black silver fox — is part of the shop’s appeal.

Williams’ taxidermy work decorates the shop. Some is from his youngest daughter, Cheyanne, an Illinois College student and a nationally honored taxidermist who might surpass her father.

Williams loves taxidermy and works in back on mounts, but archery has taken off. The current range — my youngest two shoot there for a 4H club in winter — is in the east half of the shop.

‘‘Here you get one-on-one attention,’’ Williams said. ‘‘If you own a bow, it is like wearing shoes: It has to fit.’’

It helps, too, that Williams has a dealership for Mathews, a top name in archery.

‘‘I have opened my shop at 9 at night, so [a customer] can go hunting the next morning,’’ Williams said.

Normally, his shop is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

‘‘I’ve had everything from a 70-year-old woman to 5-year-old kids,’’ he said.

As we talked, Jim Frantz walked in. He was Williams’ science teacher in high school and the first customer when Antler Ridge opened. Williams turned teacher to Frantz, who learned how to shoot a bow.

‘‘On March 16 [that year], I bought the bow,’’ Frantz said. ‘‘By May 14, I Robin Hood-ed an arrow at 20 yards.’’

That’s splitting an arrow with another arrow.

As I stowed notebooks, Williams asked: ‘‘Do you play euchre? There’s a deck in the drawer.’’

For the next hour, Frantz and I partnered at the wooden table overlooking Station Street.

It was time.

Find Antler Ridge on Facebook or call (815) 422-5040.

Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.

Antler Ridge Archery and Taxidermy.<br>Credit: Dale Bowman

Antler Ridge Archery and Taxidermy.
Credit: Dale Bowman

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