Anyone who regularly travels Interstate 25 has seen the old farmhouse north of the Harmony Road exit that serves as the headquarters for the Fort Collins Archery Association.
What can’t be seen from the road is the extensive archery range featuring 31 targets, 18 of which are at unmarked distances on a walk-around trail along the river, and picture outlines of various game animals. Nine are standard practice targets at measured distances from 10 to 50 yards and four are on the FITA range at 30, 50, 70 and 90 meters. It also includes a broadhead pit for practice before hunting season. The location, just south of the Prospect Road exit, is accessible by the frontage road.
Since 1984, the range has been managed under a textbook example of a successful public-private partnership. The City of Fort Collins purchases the target butt materials, mows the paths and maintains the restroom and picnic areas. The FCAA provides labor and oversight for range management. The facility also includes a maintenance building for target repair and meetings, and a storage building for 3-D targets. The 18 targets featuring game animal outlines were created on-site by Range Director Jim Hately.
Archery has increased in popularity over the years with many lifelong hunters switching out their rifles for the romance and skill level of the bow. Part of the increased interest in the longbow, particularly among girls, is the popularity of movies such as “The Hunger Games” and Disney’s “Brave.” At the FCAA, the compound bow is still the weapon of choice for 90 percent of the sportsmen and women. Although the traditional bow, with its limited range and flexibility, is becoming more common among experienced hunters.
The FCAA will be 40 years old this year and has grown to 430 members. Annual club memberships cost $35 per family, which includes a parking pass and participation in all club activities. The city also sells annual parking passes for $30 to non-club members. There is a parking pass kiosk onsite, which allows daily visits by the general public for $3.
You don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy the sport of archery. For those who have never handled a bow or whose skills are rusty, there are a number of venues available locally that offer instruction and equipment rental. Rocky Mountain Archery has a facility on Innovation Drive and will rent a recurve bow at $13, including the range fee. Gannett Ridge offers rentals for $10 and a rental and lesson package for $35. Jax Mercantile has an indoor range but does not rent equipment. Currently, the FCAA lacks the manpower to offer instruction to non-members and is actively seeking experienced archers who are interested in restarting the program.
The association will be hosting an event on April 18 that is open to the public and does not require reservations. Bring the family, although maybe not the little ones. And dogs are allowed, but only if leashed. This is a fine opportunity to tour the range and meet some of the members, whose enthusiasm and love of the sport will undoubtedly encourage all newcomers to want to pick up a bow.