NEW ULM, Minn. - An archery area recently opened within Faucett Brothers Park in Northport, Ala., near Tuscaloosa, with help from the Archery Trade Association (ATA) and Alabama's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). More than 60 people, including kids, adults and local media, attended the archery park's opening ceremony.
Jimmy Primos, COO of Primos Game Calls, spoke on behalf of the ATA at the opening of Alabama's ninth archery park.
"The park looks really good, and everyone in the crowd seemed excited to be part of the opening day," said Jerry Wydner, vice president of Hunter Safety Systems and an ATA business member. "I was especially tickled to see a class of elementary school kids there. They couldn't wait to get a bow in their hands."
Alabama is a national leader in getting bows into the hands of archers of all ages. Since 2007, the DCNR, ATA, local parks and recreation departments, and other partners have built nine archery parks.
The DCNR has also worked with its partners to start and strengthen archery programs near each park. ATA helped fund archery programs surrounding the Northport facility to ensure there were archers seeking a place to shoot once the park opened.
Those using the Northport archery park will enjoy a variety of shooting scenarios, including a walking trail and elevated shooting platform. Marisa Futral, DCNR hunter education coordinator, said the department is happy to provide safe, convenient places where people can shoot archery, enjoy family time, and possibly spark interest in bowhunting.
Much of that effort is made possible through sales of hunting licenses, which support state fish and wildlife departments. In turn, the agencies fund natural resource conservation and help develop resources like archery parks and programs by working with local governments and the private sector.
"If it weren't for ATA and other organizations that encourage people to hunt, shoot archery and buy hunting licenses, these resources wouldn't be available," said Jimmy Primos, COO of Primos Game Calls and an ATA board member, who attended the archery park's opening ceremony.
Archers tested their marksmanship at the new archery park.
Further, these efforts support each other. Archery parks provide places to practice. Revenue from hunting licenses support archery parks and programs. And archery itself provides opportunities for people to enjoy something many sports can't offer: a lifetime of shared fun.
"Archery is strengthening the next generation because it's inclusive," said Wydner. "When kids feel like they're part of a team, and feel like they're good at a sport, their self-esteem goes up. They may be too short for some sports, or maybe they use a wheelchair. But when they connect an arrow with a target, they feel great. I'm proud to be part of an industry that encourages young people to do their best, and instills skills they'll carry throughout their lives."
The Northport park is open to the public and free for those under age 16 or 65 and older. Archers 16 to 64 must have an Alabama hunting license, a Wildlife Heritage license or Wildlife Management Area license to use the park.
Alabama now has archery parks in Athens, Cullman, Decatur, Demopolis, Dothan, Heflin, Lincoln, Ozark and Northport.