By Scott Prater
Archers, to your marks. The Schriever Archery Range will officially open Friday.
It’s easy to spot if you know where to find it, and far enough away from populated areas to keep wayward arrows from inflicting unintended damage.
“I can’t wait to get out there,” Maj. Tim Paget, an eight-year bow hunting veteran. “It’s going to be great to be able to sneak out in the middle of the day and go practice.”
The range, situated approximately 300 yards east of Building 810 on the base’s south side, features a 25-foot high protective berm and heavy-duty, permanent targets at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards from the shooting line.
The project was funded by the Air Force’s Single Airman Initiative program last year.
“We sent out a survey as part of the SAI and the top requested item or service was an archery range,” said Seth Cannello, Schriever fitness and sports manager. “It took some time for us to choose a spot and collect the necessary items needed to open the range and now it’s ready.”
Cannello invited a few archery enthusiasts to try out the new venue Jan. 15 and 20-year veteran bow hunter Bill Spencer was one who braved sub-zero temperatures to be one of the first to hit the 40-yard target. He splashed two arrows into the box on his first attempts.
“I have a buddy who has property in El Paso County and normally I just go there to shoot, but I don’t get to do that very often because it’s dark by the time I get off work,” Spencer said. “Now, this is going to be a great place to get some practice in. It’s convenient, easy to get to and it’s set up nice.”
Capt. Robert Dover, a competitive target shooter and bow hunter, mentioned the range’s convenience as its best asset.
“This thing is a lot closer to my house than the other outdoor range in town [at the U.S. Air Force Academy] and will provide a great place to practice prior to the spring turkey season,” he said.
Cannello expects the range to see heavy use. More than 25 people have repeatedly contacted him since news of the range’s imminent opening was announced last autumn.
“I think it’s going to help create community on the base,” said Paget, who is in the process of building bow holders for the range’s firing line. “I usually shoot alone, but I suspect we have a good number of bow hunters here. The range will be a place where people who share a common passion and interest can gather and share knowledge. Plus, I think people’s competitive nature comes out when they can shoot in a group setting. The range can help create a pressure situation so it will help people improve their skills for when they go hunting.”
Archers are required to notify the fitness center prior to using the range. Users must first take the Schriever AFB archery orientation class before using the range. The fitness center even has bows and arrows ready for check out for those who don’t have their own.
“I like that feature,” Spencer said. “It’s a great way for people to experiment with the sport and find out if they like it before they make an investment in a bow.”
Cannello said the fitness center has three compound bows and six recurve bows in stock, but he cautioned everyone to make sure and follow all of the rules when using the range, including:
• Know and obey all range rules. Failure to follow all rules and procedures is grounds for forfeiture of range privileges.
• All individuals must first take the SAFB archery orientation class before using the archery range.
• Children need not attend the orientation but must be with an adult who has been certified at all times.
• The range is open dawn to dusk and only when the main fitness center is open. Main fitness center hours of operation are 5 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
• Range users must always check in with the main fitness center by calling 567-6628 before shooting and must raise the red flag near the parking lot signifying the range is in use. Users must lower the flag upon departure (assuming there are no other archers on the range).
• Crossbows are not permitted.
• Only field or target points are allowed. No broadheads or other hunting tips are authorized.
• Keep arrows in arrow holder or quiver until ready to shoot.
• Always keep arrows pointed down or toward the target.
• Always be absolutely sure that the path to the target and beyond is clear.
• Only release the bow string at full draw when there is an arrow on the string. “Dry firing” may cause damage to the bow, and is dangerous.
• Secure all loose clothing. Remove bracelets, necklaces etc. and tie hair back.
• Always treat archery equipment with respect.
• Always treat fellow archers with respect.
• Please keep talking to a minimum while archers are on the line.
• After everyone is done shooting, an all clear must be given by all shooters before retrieving your arrows.
• After securing your arrows, return to the firing line and wait until everyone is ready to shoot. Never knock an arrow or shoot when others are retrieving their arrows.
• Never drink alcohol or use any drug before shooting.
• Always stay as far south on the path from Building 810 to the range and back as possible. Never approach the range from the north, Enoch Road.
• Always park your vehicle on the east side of Building 810.
• Do not wander off designated areas.
• Take sunscreen, sunglasses and possibly a hat, insect repellant, snacks and water with you.
• Ensure to dress appropriately for cold weather situations. Dress in layers. Use many thin, warm layers rather than a few thick layers. It will insulate better and allow you to strip off layers if the temperature climbs.
• Be aware of wildlife; especially, snakes during prime sunning periods. Do not shoot at live animals while at the range.
• Remove all trash as to leave no trace.
• Shooting is not permitted when lightning is within 5 miles. If you see lightning, leave the course immediately even if a weather warning has not been issued.
• The archery orientation class will be held every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. Attendees must preregister by calling 567-6628.
Cannello expects the range to evolve during the next few years, especially if the SAI program distributes additional funding. He hopes to add a three-dimensional walking range at the site at some point, something Spencer said will present hunters with a more realistic hunting experience.
For more information about the range’s location, rules, safety or available equipment, contact the fitness center at 567-6628.