A new outdoor archery range has opened in Lancaster County.
It’s one of the finest in the area, and it’s free to the public to use, thanks to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“Pennsylvania has long been considered one of the leaders in archery,” Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau said.
“Our archery license sales have continued to climb over the past 25 years. And programs like National Archery in the Schools and Explore Bowhunting continue to provide students with a gateway to hunting.
“Our agency understands that archery is a big part of Pennsylvania tradition.”
Construction of the $149,000 range was completed in January and recently opened at the Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area.
If you went to see the snow geese, you must have seen them.
It is located in Clay Township on the east side of Kleinfeltersville Road next to the Willow Point parking lot.
As far as public outdoor archery ranges go, this one is as good as you’ll find anywhere.
There is a pavilion roof above the firing line, which rests on a concrete slab.
There are 48 inch Big Shot targets for shooting field points and 48 inch Block targets for shooting wide points, with targets located 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards from the line of fire.
There are two shooting benches under the pavilion roof for crossbow shooting.
Concrete sidewalks extend to all targets and the entire area is surrounded by a chain-link fence.
The fence is there because this range was built on part of the Middle Creek restricted area. With the exception of the archery range, the public is not allowed in this area.
“When we discussed the many variables that went into deciding where to place this archery range, one of the concerns was that people were being set back,” said group supervisor Steve Ferreri. Gambling Commission Land Management for Lancaster and Chester Counties.
“We chose this area because it was in an already existing restricted field where people shouldn’t be.”
The beach is open from sunrise to sunset, every day of the week.
You do not need to make an appointment to use it. You just show up and shoot.
The use of the range is free.
This is unique, since the Game Commission requires a hunting license or a special shooting range permit – both of which cost money – to use any of its 30 shooting ranges across the state.
“However, people who use these (archery) shooting ranges and buy a shooting range license or a hunting license help fund maintenance and other future projects like these,” said Lou.
Arrows with field tips can be fired at any target.
Broadheads should only be fired into foam block targets clearly marked for broadhead use.
(Quite frankly, if you fire a wide tip into a Big Shot target, you’ll regret it, because it’s going to be very difficult to pull off, due to the unique construction of these targets.)
The area inside the fence is quite generous, extending 150 feet behind the 50 yard target.
So if you miss a target, there should be enough space inside the fence to retrieve your arrow.
However, if you shoot an arrow outside the fenced area, don’t go after it. This area is closed to the public.
You must call the Game Commission to report the problem, and someone from the agency will help you get your arrow back.
While the Game Commission has owned and maintained 30 shooting ranges on State Game Lands across the state for many years, archery ranges are new to the agency.
The Middle Creek range is one of only three held by the Game Commission. The other two are at SGL 176 in Center County and SGL 234 in Montgomery County.
Lau said the agency plans to build six more in other parts of Pennsylvania over the next few years.
Funding to build the Game Commission ranges comes from the federal Pittman-Robertson Act, which places an excise tax on the sale of various outdoor sporting goods, including archery equipment, according to Ferri.
The money to maintain the ranges comes from various game commission fees, most of which come from the sale of hunting licenses.
Lancaster County is blessed with a plethora of shooting clubs that have archery ranges. There is no place in the county where anyone is more than 20 minutes from a gun club.
But these clubs are all private.
There are two archery ranges open to the public in the county – one at Brubaker Park in Brecknock Township and the other behind Lancaster Archery Supply in East Lampeter Township.
It’s rare in Pennsylvania. And having a third opening in Middle Creek means more opportunities for more people to get into archery and bowhunting.
“Our hope is to provide a quality archery facility for both experienced and new archers,” Ferreri said of the Middle Creek shooting range.
“We hope to create archery programs and events around this facility to increase participation and hone the skills of archery hunters.”