PIQUA — Those who wanted to be Robin Hood as a child can now continue fantasizing being the fictional archer at a real archery range right here in Miami County.
The Miami County Park District held the official opening and ribbon-cutting of the Big Woods Archery Range located at Garbry Big Woods Reserve in Piqua. The district was awarded an Ohio Department Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife shooting range subsidy grant in the amount of $15,709.06 to install an archery range at the reserve.
The woodland area facilitates four shooting lanes at 10, 20, 30, and 40-yard distances as well as a 12-foot shooting platform with independent targets to replicate tree-stand archery skills.
Present at the grand opening were J. Scott Myers, executive director of the Miami County Park District; John Wannemacher, president of the Miami County Park District Board of Commissioners; Jeff Wenning, state officer of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife; and Chad Haning, president of the Willowbrook Hunt Club.
“This is something very new to us,” Myers said. “Schools have great archery programs … we are here to meet the needs of the community.”
A survey by the Archery Trade Association revealed 18.9 million Americans over the age of 18 participated in archery and bow hunting in 2012 and the number is growing. The sport is in such high demand that facilities need to be created to keep up. The park district estimates 5-10 percent of the county population will use the facility.
“I’m happy to see this happen,” Wenning said. “It is a great thing to have going on … great opportunity for friends, spouse, and family to come out and do something.”
“We think it will bring a lot of opportunity for families in sport of archery,” Haning said.
The grant was applied for in 2014 and received in spring 2015. Construction for the site began in May, with college and high school interns helping to build the range. Considerations such as placing the archery northwest instead of directly west were made so archers are not blinded by the sunset.
Trevor Diegel, a member of the park district, was on the site of the construction.
“The neatest thing for me was working with students on construction in the range,” Diegel said. “It was good for them to see the construction process.”
Tama Cassidy, public program coordinator in the park district, said the parks offer archery summer programs such as the Intro to Archery, which used the ODNR Archery Trailer. The feedback from the program indicates a significant interest in the sport.
“Archery is one of the fastest growing sports,” Cassidy said. “In a short amount of time, you can make improvements.”
The range will offer public access from 8 a.m. until dark 365 days a year. There is no charge for use of the range with the exception of special operational requests, which are to be made to park district staff.
Reach Amy Barger at (937) 451-3340 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall.