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10 Key Elements of Archery Park Design

Author: ATA Staff

From location, space and safety requirements to financial planning, building a community archery park requires a great deal of thought and consideration. So where do you start?

Start with the ATA’s Archery Park Guide. The guide was developed to aid community and/or state officials in infusing archery and bowhunting opportunities in their communities. It provides design considerations based on case studies of existing community archery parks, and recommendations from city and state officials who’ve already built parks.

When considering key design elements, the ATA recommends nine features (and one bonus feature) to your archery park.

Targets

Photo Credit: ATA

Your range may include paper, bag and 3-D foam targets. Traditional, multicolored targets are often housed in a wooden frame. The frames may be covered with rubber, used fire hose or other materials to help protect the wood from damage caused by arrows. Target, field, or 3-D – the requirement varies with your range goals and what type of tournaments you wish to host.

Several manufacturers make targets specifically for shooting ranges. Some require shelter to prolong target life while others need rain to make target materials expand. Refer to the target manufacturer’s guidelines for recommendations on target design.

Access Recommendations

Photo Credit: Ryan Kirby

Have a well-defined entrance and exit, and provide information at the entrance about archery programs and procedures, like in the sign above. Also consider access to parking and the range for those with disabilities. As with any public park, be sure to provide bathrooms, shelters, picnic tables, garbage receptacles, drink machines and other amenities.

“Creating a comfortable atmosphere at archery parks, and placing those parks near baseball fields, soccer fields and other civic sporting areas is crucial,” said Michelle Zeug, the ATA’s Director of Community and International Programs. “Moms and kids don’t want to go to secluded areas alone. To maximize archery use, it’s vital to build archery parks where people can see and get to them easily.”

Sun Angles

Photo Credit: Ryan Kirby

A north-facing range is ideal, but safety is foremost. When designing your facility, remember that some competitions require archers to shoot within 45 degrees of north.

Permanent shade structures over the shooting line will also protect shooters from rain or excessive heat.

Topography

 Earthen berms make great natural safety barriers. Adding shrubs and other landscaping material is ideal to keep the range looking like other parks.  Photo Credit: Ryan Kirby

Except for walking courses, most archery ranges are built on level ground. Take advantage of areas where archers can shoot toward hills, ravines, valleys or heavily wooded areas with no walking trails.

Distance Markers

Ben Avery Shooting Facility in Phoenix, Arizona, uses ground quivers to marks shooting lanes and distances.  Photo Credit: ATA 

Common target distances are 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards. Distance markers should be consistent with the look and feel of other signs and amenities at nearby parks. Consider arrow quivers and bow racks for convenience.

Shooting Lane Width

Common shooting widths are 24 to 30 inches, or 5-foot widths in lanes that accommodate two shooters per target. Some competitions have specific lane-width requirements.

Well-marked Shooting Lanes


Bow racks and quivers mark the shooting lanes at Staring Lake Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  Photo Credit: ATA

Shooting lanes can be marked on pavement or gravel. Each shooting lane can be marked with paint, bow racks, platforms, or ground quivers to hold arrows.

Equipment Accessibility

Bow racks like these are attached to the shooting platforms at Carver Park Reserve in Victoria, Minnesotta.  Photo Credit: ATA

To encourage shooters to frequently use an archery park, make sure they have easy access to their equipment. Place bow racks at or behind the shooting lanes; quivers to hold arrows at the shooting lines, and extra tables or benches to keep equipment cases, shooting accessories and tools nearby.

Room to Move for Archers and Spectators

Photo Credit: Ryan Kirby

A waiting area for spectators should extend at least 10 feet behind the shooting line indoors and 16.5 feet outdoors, with an area for spectators at least 10 feet behind the waiting line.

If you plan on holding competitions at your range, you should consider providing 25 feet or more behind the shooting lines for spectators to gather. Click here for more information on spectator space.

Walking Courses

Photo Credit: Ryan Kirby

Once the basic need for a beginner archery range and a general archery range are met, consider incorporating a walking course to add value to your archery park. Walking courses, or archery trails, are popular among hunters because they simulate natural hunting conditions.

In areas where interest in 3-D and field archery competitions is high, walking courses are especially popular. To create a permanent archery trail, allow one to 1.5 acres per target. However, with planning, it’s possible to create a temporary walking archery course on existing trails used by joggers and bikers.

To learn more about archery park features, click here.

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