MISSOULA – It’s a sport that’s getting more and more popular and this June, archers get to take aim at a brand-new outdoor practice facility in Missoula that offers something new to for bowmen and women.
It’s been a three-year effort for the Hellgate Hunters and Anglers Club that had an idea to build an outdoor archery range in Missoula — and now, it’s happening.
“We entered into an agreement with the County. It’s been an open field for years and they were looking for someone to do something with it,” Hellgate Hunters and Anglers President Adam Shaw explained.
“And we’d been looking for a place to put an archery range in that’s free and open to the public so folks can come out conveniently to shoot their bows without having to go through a membership and drive out of town.”
The Hellgate Archery Range is located near the intersection of Tower Street and Spurgin Road in Missoula. The club has a ten-year lease on the land.
Archers will have multiple targets from 20 yards to 80 yards to practice their sport and it’s hoped the free, public facility could spark new interest in archery.
“It’s going to be fascinating to see. I think it’s going to really boost up the amount of people who are interested in archery and bowhunting,” said the group’s Tony Hoyt.
When it comes to archery, practice makes perfect. in fact, a lot of bowhunters are already starting to work on their technique for the upcoming hunting season in the Fall.
“I saw numbers the other day from FWP where archery permits have grown 100% since 2000. It’s the fastest growing sport in America right now. We’re seeing a tremendous increase in youth participation in archery and in women’s participation,” Shaw told MTN News.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Knife River, the Big Sky Stewardship Committee and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation helped support the effort.
The Hellgate Hunters and Anglers club has about 400 members and focuses on hunting, fishing and conservation issues in Western Montana and hopes the facility will inspire others to take aim.
The Hellgate Hunters and Anglers is holding it’s “Wild Night for Wildlife on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The fundraising party includes wild game appetizers, a silent auction more and will be held at the Montana Natural History Center on Hickory Street in Missoula.
The money raised from the event will go toward the archery range.
Reporting by Jill Valley for MTN News