Time to Let Loose 

New ranges add to Boise's vibrant archery scene

click to enlarge BRIAN PEARSON
  • Brian Pearson

2019 has been a big year for Treasure Valley archers—bowhunters and recreational shooters alike. Two brand-new ranges, one up Mountain Cove Road and another off of Idaho State Highway 21, have greatly increased opportunities for Boise toxophilites.

For years, the go-to location for local archers to practice their skills outside was a flood basin near the Military Reserve. The dusty bowl was home to the largest outdoor archery range in the valley, featuring eight black targets at varying distances.

Visitors to the nearby dog park or trails could pause on the berm above the basin and watch archers knock their arrows, draw their strings back to their cheeks and let loose, hopefully nailing the center of their targets.

But on May 28, those targets were removed to make way for a new and improved dog park.

Now, archers have to continue roughly a mile and half further up Mountain Cove Road to the old police shooting range to practice. The site is still under construction, but Boise Parks and Rec hopes it will be ready for use in early August.

"The soil remediation that needed to be done at the shooting range has been completed, and a building has been taken down to make room for the new range," said Parks and Rec Communications Manager Bonnie Shelton.

The new range is larger than the original, and will feature an 80-yard lane for longer-distance practices, as well as a dedicated parking lot for users.

"It will also be made ADA accessible, a feature that was lacking at the old location," said Shelton "It's great because we do have users that will benefit from that."

In the meantime, archers still have a spot to hone their skills outside thanks to the recent opening of another range near Boise. Back in May, Idaho Fish and Game launched a collaborative effort with Parks and Rec and local archery clubs to bring the 3D walking range to the area. Located off of Idaho State Highway 21 in the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, the range features a mile-long walk through 20 3D foam animal targets. It's geared primarily toward bowhunters.

"It's something everybody is very excited about," said Alex Martin, president of Idaho Traditional Bowhunters, one of the clubs that helped plan and build the range. "There's a range like this in Eastern Idaho that's very popular, so it's something people have wanted for a long time."

Idaho Traditional Bowhunters has been around since 1988. The club, as its name implies, focuses on archery with traditional bows, such as longbows and recurves (imagine any fantasy movie involving archery and you'll get the picture), rather than compound bows, which are more commonly used in modern bowhunting.

"The bowhunting community as a whole is getting more interested in [traditional shooting]," said Martin.

The group puts on several 3D shoots throughout the year, and even held a large regional one in 2018 that focused on traditional shooting.

Outdoor 3D bowshoots are regular events around the Treasure Valley with more than a dozen taking place between January and August. One of the largest, the Northwest Mountain Challenge at Tamarack Resort, routinely draws around 1,000 participants.

"It's great because you get to ride the lifts to the top and then shoot your way down," said Gordon Stairs, an employee at Dead On Archery, the shop that sponsors the challenge.

The three-day tournament takes place in June and features several courses of varying difficulty, both in terrain and target. Outdoor shoots have a competitive edge and can be made even more entertaining by the novelty of creatively shaped 3D targets—from the conventional deer all the way to miniature dinosaurs.

There are also indoor opportunities for local archers that allow them to practice year-round.

"We have the biggest indoor range all the way out to Utah," said Stairs. "It's a 65-yard range, and we have another shop opening soon in Kuna that will have a 70-yard range."

For seasoned hunters, traditional enthusiasts or people who watched too much Game of Thrones last year, now is an excellent time to pick up a bow.

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