Duck, deer and dinos at Ben Pearson event

The 32nd Annual Ben Pearson Memorial is scheduled for this weekend, May 19-20 off Island Harbor Marina Road with an expected 350-400 participants set to take aim at a 3D course of targets ranging from deer to dinosaurs.

With no rain in the weekend forecast and temperatures in the upper 80’s, Pine Bluff Bowhunters President Zack Bullock said the event continues to be a benchmark for the state’s sport.

Coined after and continued in honor of local archer legend Ben Pearson (1898-1971), the event has seen as many as 700 applicants in the past, including the likes of former rock star and weapons advocate Ted Nugent, recent numbers in the arena have declined nationwide, including the state of Arkansas.

“Ben Pearson pretty much revolutionized modern bow hunting,” Bullock said. “With him being from Pine Bluff that is why we carry this on. It always has been and continues to be the largest tournaments in the state.”

The event is open to anyone interested in shooting archery, from barebows to recurves and longbows with registration slated for 7 a.m. Saturday morning. There are men’s and women’s classes as well as youth and a category for ages 8-under.

Bullock and PBB treasurer Jeff Douthit were busy setting the course Thursday with 25 targets and one bonus target. Each target is valued on points determined on proximity to the center. Scores are tallied at the end with a total possible point value of 300, or 312 with the bonus. Targets are 3D in the sense that they are life-size animals of various species, including deer, elk, bear and turkey. For the younger age groups, a T-Rex, snakes or lizards could be lurking.

Former Men’s Open champion John Robertson, who topped John Boswell in 2010 by one point with a 266, serve as range captain at PBB. Robertson said that while the event also has a professional category, anyone interested in archery is urged to attend the weekend shoot.

“I think there are people out there who are intimidated,” Robertson said. “I want them to know that there is nothing to be intimidated about. This is all in fun. We have a great time out here and would love for more people to become involved. Bring your children out here and see if they like it.”

And while most participants must bring their own gear, the PBB will provide all necessary items needed for the younger age group.