Archery is booming in Alabama.
In the past five years, five community archery parks have opened in Alabama cities. Two more are scheduled to open soon, including one five miles from the Talladega Superspeedway, and another is under construction in Tuscaloosa.
“And we are not stopping,” said Stuart Goldsby, hunter education coordinator for Alabama's Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.
“We are looking for more cities to go into. We're actually talking right now to Orange Beach. People can go to the coast, enjoy the beach and go out and shoot on the same vacation.”
The boon in the Archery in the Schools program — Alabama has more than 250 schools now teaching archery — was the catalyst for the archery parks concept, Goldsby said. With so much participation in archery by students, it created a demand for more places to shoot, he said.
“It's giving someone a place to go, making archery a mainstream park and recreation activity, just like baseball, softball, soccer and everything else,” Goldsby said
Alabama's Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries builds the archery ranges at public parks around the state, partnering with that city's parks and recreation department.
The stage wildlife agency pays for the materials, construction and targets (typical $10,000 to $12,000) through federal and industry grant money. The cities are responsible for maintenance of the archery parks.
At each one, there is a tower or platform range to simulate the hunting experience. The platform is 12-feet high with targets as far away as 40 yards, Goldsby said.