Seven years and 11 archery parks later, Alabama continues to impress ATA Board member Jimmy Primos with the way its towns, cities, counties, bowhunting clubs and state wildlife agency work together to make archery a community sport. As the ATA recently reported, Primos helped dedicate Alabama’s newest archery park Aug. 4 at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham, south of Birmingham.
It’s the first archery park Alabama has built in one of its state parks.
Jimmy Primos, chief operating officer for Primos Hunting Calls in Flora, Mississippi, said the archery ranges at Oak Mountain State Park embody that goal. “When I arrived for the dedication ceremonies, I saw people all over the park,” he said. “They were golfing, bicycling, jogging, kayaking, riding horses and paddle-boarding. And coming into the park, I noticed a beautiful residential community with nice, clean homes. That’s the kind of setting where archery belongs. I felt proud to be there. The targets were up, and people were already using the ranges.”
Primos has long represented Primos Hunting Calls on the ATA’s Board of Directors. He has actively supported the ATA’s Community Archery Program since its creation in 2005, and welcomes opportunities to help people enjoy archery alongside mainstream sports like baseball, soccer, tennis, football and basketball.
Alabama opened its first community archery park in 2008 in Athens, and expects to open its 12th before the end of August. “The ATA loves partnering with Alabama,” Primos said during Oak Mountain’s dedication ceremony. “The ATA provides funding, a guidebook and models for archery parks, but this community went above and beyond to implement the plan. I can walk in here and make a speech, but you and the ATA staff did all the work in putting the ATA’s money to good use.”
Earlier, the Bowhunters of Alabama held a tournament at the site for 270 archers. Archers 16 and under or 65 and older can shoot free, but all visitors to Oak Mountain must pay an entry fee. Further, Alabama residents must have a hunting license, wildlife management area license, or wildlife heritage license to use the archery park.
Alabama’s other archery parks are in Cullman, Dothan, Demopolis, Decatur, Foley, Heflin, Lincoln, Tuscaloosa and Ozark.
Primos said Alabama sets the standard for making archery publicly accessible. “We use Alabama as the example other states should follow, not just for recreational archery, but for urban bowhunting, and hunter recruitment and retention,” he said. “Parks like Oak Mountain demonstrate the economic benefit that communities can expect from high-quality archery ranges. When you can attract over 1,000 archers like they plan to do for weekend tournaments, and many of those competitors bring their families, investments like this pay off.”
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources worked with the Archery Trade Association, Shelby County, the city of Pelham, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and area bowhunters to build the archery park. It's open year-round for recreational shooting, bowhunting practice, competitive tournaments and outdoor educational programs. The facility features an eight-target adult range with targets at 15 to 50 yards, an eight-target youth range with targets at five to 20 yards, and a four-target range with targets at 10 to 40 yards. In addition, bowhunters are encouraged to use a 12-foot shooting platform to practice tree-stand shooting.
Homepage photo: Paul Sherar