Only a month until Oklahoma's deer archery season and bow hunters needing a place to practice should check out the new archery tower and range at Crystal Lake.
It's free to the public and unique for Oklahoma City. Built from specifications provided by the national Archery Trade Association, archers can shoot at targets from a platform that is 14-feet high. The tower can accommodate as many as four shooters at a time.
“There are probably four or five people a day that stop in here that say they are going out there to shoot,” said Rob Stillwagon of Arrowhead Archery in Del City.
“It gives hunters a chance to practice like they were shooting out of a tree stand, getting them proficient at shooting downward angles. It's the only place I can go in Oklahoma City without paying an arm and a leg to sight in my bow.”
City Care, a non-profit organization in Oklahoma City that cares for the poor and homeless, leases Crystal Lake from the city for $1 per year. Volunteers donated time and materials to clean up the lake and build the archery range and tower.
One of City Care's missions is to introduce inner-city children to the outdoors through a program called City Kid Outdoors.
With the growing popularity of archery in the public schools, an archery range seemed ideal at Crystal Lake, which is somewhat secluded even though it's not far from downtown Oklahoma City, said Cash Cargill, City Care's youth program director.
“It fell right in with our mission, teaching kids about the outdoors,” Cargill said. “We thought it was a perfect thing to do.”
City Care took the idea to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Rich Fuller for guidance, who suggested also adding the elevated platform, similar to what is being built at community archery parks in Alabama and other states.
“It provides a more realistic hunting experience,” Cargill said. “I think it is going to get pretty busy over the next month.”
Shooters using the tower must bring and wear a safety harness which can be clipped to hooks on the posts. Broadheads are prohibited.
The archery range is open from daylight to dark, seven days a week, except on days when City Care is holding an event at the lake, Cargill said.
The Crystal Lake Archery Club, organized through Arrowhead Archery, maintains the ranges and will hold 3D tournaments at the lake.
A nominal fee might be charged in the future to non-club members, Cargill said. But for now, it's the best bargain in town for bow hunters who need a place to practice.
“Instead of someone crawling up on their roofs or up their tree stands to practice, it's more convenient just to walk up some steps and shoot some arrows,” Cargill said.
If you go
To get to the Crystal Lake archery range, exit south from Interstate 40 on MacArthur.
Go a half-mile south, then turn west on SW 15th and travel until the road dead ends.
For more information on Crystal Lake and the archery park, call Arrowhead Archery at 670-2697, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 826-4735.