Jonah Sakata has had a bow in his hand as far back as he can remember. By 7, he was shooting consistently.
Going to archery tournaments, he waited and longed for the day when he would turn 10 so he could hunt a live animal. He went on to ride big waves and meet other challenges and thrills. But to this day, nothing quite measures up to the rush of stalking a wild animal and standing within 2 yards of it — close enough to smell the critter.
“I love to be up on the mountain,” he said. “Phones don’t work up there, for one thing.”
Recently, Sakata sat in what is probably his second favorite place, the Sakata Archery Supplies store in Kailua-Kona. Surrounded by bows and arrows and accessories, under the scrutiny of stuffed sheep’s heads staring down from the walls, he said the word about his business is slowly getting out.
Sakata seems to be in the right business. There has been a steady increase in people interested in hunting and target shooting, said Earl Kalawaia, past president of the Hawaii Island Archery Club.
“With the hunting and shooting games, I’ve definitely seen an increase in youth and women since I became involved in 2008,” said Kalawaia, who hunts with his wife and 14-year-old daughter.
The trend reflects a national increase in men’s and women’s hunting shows, and hunting apparel is increasingly focusing on the female market, Kalawaia said.
Sakata and his brother, Kimo, opened the archery shop in March behind Matsuyama Food Mart on Highway 190, offering compound bows and arrows, repair and tuning, starter sets, camouflage clothing and just about every accessory a shooter could need for a day of practice or hunting.
“Every day seems to be getting a little busier,” he said. “Archery is really word of mouth.”
The technology around bows has advanced rapidly since Sakata, 27, was a youth.
“When I was 16, I’d outgrow my bow, but my dad couldn’t afford to buy me a new one,” he said. “So I had to keep shooting it.”
Sakata said he carries two of the four most popular archery brands, Hoyt Archery and PSE Archery. He picked a bow off the rack — a compound from Hoyt with 15 to 75 pounds of pull and an adjustable draw length from 19 to 30 inches. That means the bow could be used by a 10-year-old or an adult. The bow retails for $500, but the shooter wouldn’t have to keep upgrading his weapon like in the past.
The Hoyt Carbon Spyder 30 is the best bow Sakata has ever shot. With carbon risers that are quieter and more lightweight than aluminum frames, the bow retails for around $1,200 — the high end of what Sakata offers. A hot pink lady’s bow by PSE can fling an arrow at 312 feet per second, according to manufacturer’s information on the tag. Most of the bows have 60 to 70 pounds of draw weight — although the weapons themselves weigh only a few pounds. Their power makes them suitable for killing any game the Big Island offers. In the future, Sakata plans to offer something for everyone, including traditional long and recurve bows, and bows for fishing.
Sakata’s son, Archer, turns 1 this month. His son Keith, 9, has been shooting for some time. Sakata is trying to instill a strong ethic that you clean and eat what you kill, he said.
His nephew, Hunter, who turns 4 this week, gets the hand-me-down bows from Keith.
“So it’s all in the family.”