Don’t Just Create Archers, Create Archery Communities

State agencies and private groups can partner with communities to create archery opportunities.
Photo Credit: Julie Geiser / Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Author: Taylor Walston

Expanding archery requires community organizations to work together and support each other to grow the sport.

That’s why more archery shops, community parks, community centers, and state agencies are forming partnerships to multiply their combined strengths. Their joint force creates more introductory archery programs and opportunities than they could ever launch individually.

Julie Geiser, a public information officer for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, realized her community of North Platte, Nebraska, needed a public archery park. .The only option was a club that required a membership. Geiser and other staff dedicated a section of the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area, one of the commission’s parks, to a public range. She also needed volunteers to help build the range, so she reached out to the community.

Volunteers helped measure the range at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area. Photo Credit: Julie Geiser / Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Geiser recruited several friends who shoot archery, and they recruited their friends to help build the range. She also enlisted a volunteer from the Rotary Club who brought her family, and the sports marketing and events specialist from North Platte’s visitors bureau.

Geiser said she sought a site that was large enough to build a safe range, and easily accessible to the community while also benefiting regular park guests. The commission receives compliments about the range, which gets used almost every evening and weekend. “Archers are thankful to have a place to finally go and target shoot,” she said.

Geiser said it was simple to find materials for the range. “Most of the supplies were recycled from other projects, or items we had on hand,” Geiser said.

Once the range was marked with spray paint, Nebraska Game and Parks staff came in with a tractor and drilled holes. Photo Credit: Julie Geiser / Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Building the range took longer than expected because of COVID-19 restrictions, but staff and volunteers worked together to complete the project. Commission staff assembled the target frames, and volunteers then showed up after COVID restrictions eased to help mark the range’s seven target stands, shooting lines, waiting area, parking area, and bow racks.

“Setting up the range is a bit more tedious than it sounds, because everything is laid out according to range specs for safety,” Geiser said. “Once everything was marked with spray paint, staff came in with a tractor and drilled holes.”

Many of the commission’s parks around Nebraska feature archery ranges, so it was easy for the state agency to partner with the North Platte community to fill the need. The range will also host educational efforts, including the National Archery in the Schools Program, as well as practice sessions.

Volunteers launched the first arrows on opening night. Photo Credit: Julie Geiser / Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Meanwhile, Geiser is looking ahead to more partnerships. “I hope to partner with the North Platte Visitors Bureau’s sporting division to host archery shoots,” Geiser said.

By reaching out to one group, the state commission opened a self-sustaining communications chain. As each organization partnered with the commission, group members told friends about the idea, and they told their friends, which quickly built a solid following.

If you have questions about connecting with organizations in your community, visit the ATA’s State Contacts page for contact information on your state’s organizations, representatives and industry partners. You can also contact Samantha Seaton, ATA’s academy and community program manager, at or (502) 689-4245.

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