What do you get when you mix paintball, dodgeball, bows and (soft-tipped) arrows? Archery tag!

ROCK CAVE – The combination of paintball and dodgeball mixed with archery equipment sounds a bit perilous, right?

Fortunately, the game of archery tag is described as being extremely safe.

When capitalized, “Archery Tag” references the trademarked original equipment brand developed for the sport of extreme archery. Archery tag also refers to a game that meshes elements of dodgeball or other combat-like games with archery skills.

And for Audrey Elmore out of Belington, the sport gave her 15-year-old son the best birthday party yet.

Elmore chose GOTCHA! Archery Games, a veteran-owned, family-operated small business from the southern part of Upshur County, to host her son’s birthday party to celebrate with friends and family.

Elmore said she first heard of GOTCHA! when she and her family attended Beverly Days, an event that occurs in Beverly, West Virginia during the summer.

“I first heard of it a few years ago and saw the kids enjoying something new that is fun for many ages,” she said.

Upshur County’s Mike Shaw and his family began the journey of GOTCHA! Archery Games in June 2015, and he has since traveled the state with his Archery Tag equipment for parties and events.

“We are licensees for and offer Archery Tag and also Hoverball Archery for a very wide variety of events. Archery Tag is best described as a combination of dodgeball and paintball with archery equipment,” Shaw explained. “It sounds dangerous, but it is extremely safe.

“Hoverball is an inflatable shooting gallery with four balls that hover over an air stream, and archers shoot the balls out of the air with our patented soft-tipped arrows,” he added.

With 30 years of experience with shot bows and bow hunting, Shaw said he’s always enjoyed the sport of archery.

“We started this business because we love archery,” he said. “We love to teach people how to shoot, and we wanted to start a small business that we could run together as a family.”

Shaw first got a glimpse into the fun of archery tag while watching an outdoor show, where the hunters in Elk Camp were playing tag. The hunters should have already left for camp for the evening hunt, but were too wrapped up in the game.

“They were so addicted they just couldn’t stop,” Shaw said.

While some may be hesitant to try archery tag, Elmore said Shaw made sure everyone at the birthday party, regardless of their age, felt comfortable.

“Mike did a great job of explaining the rules and safety instructions, making sure each person from ages 5 to 55 knew what they were doing and had fun,” she said.

Shaw wants folks to know that archery tag is an experience that is fresh, new, exciting, and most of all, safe.

“We at GOTCHA! Archery Games offer something that is fairly new to the area,” he said. “Archery tag is in 67 countries around the world, and we are one of only two businesses in the state of West Virginia that can bring the party to you. We do everything for you when we come to do an event – clean masks between games, reset the field, keep games moving along, offer lessons/assistance when needed. We have an exceptional safety rating and absolutely love our job.”

Over the past three years or so, business has brought Shaw and his team all over the state for church events, birthdays, fundraisers and more.

“Probably our biggest event every year is the West Virginia Outdoor Sports Show at the Charleston Civic Center,” Shaw said. “We have a great partnership with the Civic Center and hundreds of kids get to experience archery and play archery tag for free throughout the weekend each year.” He said GOTCHA! will take part in the 50th Annual W.Va. Outdoor Sports Show Jan. 18-20.

Shaw and his business left such a lasting impression on Elmore and her family that she plans on calling up GOTCHA! Archery Games again.

“My son said that this was his best birthday party ever,” she said. “He was impressed and happy with everything about GOTCHA! Archery.”

Looking forward, Shaw said GOTCHA!’s goal is to one day own its own facility to host parties and Archery Tag tournaments with an indoor archery range, offering private lessons and range times for National Archery in the Schools students and other archers.

You can learn more about the local archery tag business by visiting gotchaarcherygames.com

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