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Not long ago I was in Des Moines, Iowa for a commercial photoshoot. Driving to the location, I noticed a little park and knew immediately I wanted to stop there once the shoot was over for the day.
The park wasn’t much larger than a lot for a Dollar General or similar-sized business. There were 10 alleys made of concrete walkways with large wooden structures at the end of each alley. The structures were similar to a frame made of 4-by-4 beams. Inside the frames was compressed carpet.
The alleys were different lengths. In sets of two, they were 10 yards, 20 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards and 50 yards long. It may have been the nicest archery range I have ever seen, including indoor ranges. There were permanent tubes at one end of each lane to hold arrows and a hook to hang the bow.
There was a sign stating it was controlled by the state and county. I instantly became envious of the state of Iowa dedicating money to such an endeavor.
I have seen some others similar but not quite as nicely laid out as this one in both Missouri and Wisconsin that were funded by government monies. The thought went to the back of my head whether something like this could work in the Carolinas.
This came back to the forefront of my mind when my wife and I recently took a walk at a nearby park. Lots of money has gone into the area, building a nice walking bridge across the lake to allow access in full circle around the lake. Currently, a dam is being replaced and rebuilt. It has just been announced a park area will be built for picnicking and other activities.
What caught my attention though was something I hadn’t seen before located beside the boat ramp. A kayak/canoe entry dock has been installed. This isn’t a miniature boat ramp that is only for paddle boats like at many waterways that you can find semi-regularly. No, this is a floating dock, with handrails, a place to step into and out off the kayak or canoe, and there are rollers below it to allow easy access into and out of the water.
There is even a sliding platform that pulls out over the vessel to allow you to enter from directly above rather than from the side. While not an archery range, I am still excited to see things like this come into being. Anything that encourages us to get out in nature, on the water, or on a trail at a nominal cost is wonderful. Ease of use and minimal upkeep make it a winning situation for the public and government.
I look forward to seeing and noticing more of this in the future for our generations to follow.
Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.