Terry L. Zink is an avid outdoorsman, houndsman and now the proprietor of a family-run business.
Last year, Zink, who has worked as a carpenter for the last 40 years, started constructing archery box targets. At first, he was making them in a more typical style with small circles covering the tarp of the target. Then he wondered why he didn’t just make a target with an image of an animal on it.
This April, he returned to the craft and decided to start a side business, Zink’s Big Sky Archery Targets, combining two of his passions: his family and the outdoors.
Making the targets largely on a per-order basis, Zink typically spends between three-and-a-half to four hours making each target, which have the typical target rings on one side and images of wild animals on the other for practicing hunters.
Instead of buying new material to stuff the targets’ plywood frames, Zink circles the Flathead three times a week to pick up used shrink-wrap and plastic sheeting from local businesses. Zink noted that instead of sending all the plastic detritus to the landfill, he is able to put it “back into use.”
Working alongside his son Dylan, 14, along with the help of his daughter Katie, 12, his wife Amy, and one of his son’s close friends, he has sold upwards of 40 targets to customers across the state this year. Marketing his side business largely by word of mouth, he has been contacted by potential customers across the nation, although he said he has to figure out how to ship the products at an affordable price.
Currently, the targets come in two sizes costing $200 and $300, and customers can buy target skins for $35, which are decorated with realistic images of wild animals such as elk and turkey. Zink estimated that the skins have a life expectancy of 2,000 to 2,500 arrow shots.
Noting that one of his goals is to make affordable targets for hunters, he stressed that the only reason he would raise his prices would be if lumber costs jump. He added that while the business has not made large profits, it is debt free.
In addition to its sales, the business has also donated a number of targets to local organizations. He said one such target will be given away at the upcoming Flathead Valley Archers’ 3D Shoot in a kids raffle.
“My big thing is getting our youth and young people into hunting and the outdoors,” Zink emphasized.
He also donated a large target to the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers in support of protecting public lands.
Moving forward, Zink said he hopes to expand the business, perhaps even build a new shop at his home in Marion. He will have a booth at the upcoming Northwest Montana Fair and Rodeo in August in Kalispell and then at the Montana Sportsman’s Expo in Kalispell next year. After that, “time will tell,” he said.
What he does know for certain is that he will be shutting the shop down in September to go elk hunting for 10 days with his family.
“My peace is going up into the mountains with my family going bow hunting,” he said.