League Lines: Aiming For New Members

Freemont Chapter Archery

Nebraska >> The Fremont Chapter made a decision in spring 2009 to build a new archery range and reintroduce archery programs at the chapter to boost membership and involve more youth and families in chapter events. I was a new member with an extensive background in archery. When asked by the chapter president and directors to oversee construction of the new range, I agreed to do it.

The first step was deciding on a type of archery range. We decided to build a range that would allow archers to shoot targets out to 50 yards, be spacious enough to accommodate many archers at the same time, and be low maintenance. The range would have two 20-yard, two 30-yard, two 40-yard, and one 50-yard practice target. In addition, it would have a large concrete shooting line, bow hangers, benches, a shooting tower, and lights for shooting at night. We then had to find a location.

Our first choice was a northwest corner of the property adjacent to our small lodge. Because the area was overgrown with trees and shrubs, we used the ruler application on Google Earth to determine whether the range could reasonably fit there. Once we determined the range would fit, I made initial drawings of the range layout. Next, I researched safety considerations such as arrow trajectory for various bows and the distance from the proposed range to existing roads and structures around the range. With an 8x30 foot safety fence at the rear of the range, it could safely be built at our selected site.

The entire project was completed by chapter members, including some new recruits. Our first step was to remove trees and stumps from the target area and then grade it with fill material. Then we laid out the range. By the end of 2009, we had all seven pads for the targets and an 8x40 foot concrete shooting line poured. In 2010, we added a concrete pad for our shooting tower and set up the tower. We installed lights, planted grass, and covered the range with straw for the winter. In 2011, we designed and built our target stands, bought and installed range targets, and added bow hangers, benches, and the safety fence.

In June 2011, we held a community open house on the range and held our first summer youth archery program. We had 10 kids that first year and more than 20 the second year. The archery program is open to the community, and we advertise it in the local newspaper and on the radio as  well as our chapter newsletter. Robinhood Archery Club of Fremont agreed to furnish the equipment and certified instructors for the youth archery program in return for use of our well-maintained range. This is one example of the partnerships that made this archery program possible.

To help fund this project, we took advantage of many different resources. We partnered with Nebraska Traditional Archers. The group has made an annual donation to the chapter since 2009, which helped us start and complete the range and helps us maintain it today. Members of Nebraska Traditional Archers also help us with archery education and range maintenance. In return, the group uses our facilities for some of their annual events. We applied for and received a $1,000 grant from the Izaak Walton League of America Endowment to purchase materials for constructing the range, including concrete and electrical supplies. We also received great support from several local businesses that offered donations in the form of cash, materials, and labor.

Several Ikes also renovated a building adjacent to the range that is now used for bowhunter education, bow-building classes, and youth archery gatherings. With completion of the range, we have been able to add several other events at the chapter, including a bowfishing tournament and outdoors skills seminar.

Every fall, our chapter directors decide what we want for archery programs in the upcoming year and contact the organizations we feel can help us reach our goals. We hope to expand our archery programs, allowing other organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, 4-H Clubs, and the local YMCA summer camp program to use our facilities. The public exposure we’ve gained by partnering with local groups has attracted and should continue to attract new members to the League.

As a chapter, we certainly found that if you plan, manage your resources wisely, and work hard, you can reach your goals.

Jerry Bennett, Fremont Chapter Member