WALDWICK, N.J. – Mark Checki Jr. of Hasbrouck Heights has loved bowhunting since he found his father’s old bow when he was 12.
That passion has brought him far in two decades — hunting in the woods, becoming a certified bow technician, and now co-owning Agony Outdoors Archery Pro Shop in Waldwick with fellow enthusiast Jimmy Paolozzi of Lyndhurst.
“On today’s television hunting shows, you see people sit in a tree stand and shoot an animal right away. We don’t do that,” explained Checki. “Where we hunt, the animals actually have a fear of humans.”
In other words, it’s difficult to bring them down. And that's the way it’s supposed to be, at least in Checki’s eyes.
“Agony Outdoors refers to the thrill of success built on the agony of failure,” said Checki, who sees archery as a way people who usually are tethered to their tech can reconnect with the cycles of nature.
Archery, he points out, can be competitive. But it also can be used as a way to hunt or simply as a leisure activity to relieve the mind.
The very existence of Agony Outdoors points to a resurgence in interest in archery. Ten years ago, Checki said, the sport was on the decline. But now it’s on the upswing.
A total of 18.9 million Americans age 18 and older participated in archery and/or bowhunting in 2012, according to an Archery Trade Association survey.
The interest, according to Checki and other cultural observers, has to do with movies such as “The Hunger Games” and superhero action films featuring men shooting traditional archery.
“That makes a lasting impression with kids, who want to try it out for themselves,” said Checki.
He and Paolozzi, both certified bow technicians, are graduates of the Rochester-based Chapman Archery School, founded by competitive archer and engineer Steve VanZile.
Their shop offers a large variety of recurve and compound bows, which range in price from $100 to $1,000, as well as lessons, which they give at the Archery Range at the nearby Campgaw Mountain Reservation in Mahwah.