Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) announced a proposal last week to develop a new archery range along Flathead Lake and extend the existing field to Lone Pine State Park west of Kalispell .
The new archery range would be located on part of Big Arm State Park, on the west side of US Highway 93, across from the park’s main entrance. The plot of land is currently used for scattered hiking.
The shooting range would include a gravel parking lot, entrance kiosk, safe toilets and lockable storage space for archery lessons and practice. A path connecting 12 firing stations will be built in the project area and will include at least one raised firing platform.
The shooting range will serve residents of Polson and Lake County communities, providing a site to hone shooting skills without having to travel to Kalispell.
Larry Rattray, president of Mission Valley Archers, says the only option to shoot right now is at Ronan Rifle Range, where a small area is reserved for archers, but they must bring their own targets.
âThis will be a real asset to our region,â said Rattray, adding that the archers in Mission Valley have approximately 70 members. âIt’s a big step in the right direction and I’m really happy.
Rattray used to work in Kalispell and drive to Lone Pine State Park after work, where the only developed open-air public archery range in the Flathead Valley is.
The current Lone Pine Range has six firing stations and has seen a significant increase in its use in recent years.
Park Superintendent Brian Schwartz said the lineup averages around 2,000 people a year, down from around 500 a decade ago, with a 33% increase in recent years on an auto basis. -registration.
âWe improved our goals a few years ago, and that alone almost doubled the number of people we were hosting,â said Schwartz. “It’s become so popular and it’s not just hunters, it’s families with kids and some people with homemade bows.”
According to FWP, the increase in archery courses offered at local schools is one of the main factors behind the increase in usage. Eighteen schools in northwest Montana participate in the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP), with five programs joining in the past two years. The NASP program can be taught indoors in a school gymnasium, or outdoors on fields or ranges like Lone Pine.
Schwartz has been in talks with neighboring owners for years looking for ways to increase archery offerings, and according to the proposal, FWP will buy 9.3 acres next to the park to expand the lineup.
The acreage will allow the park to add a quarter mile of track and six additional targets, doubling the size of the lineup.
âThere are some great people involved in the expansion and I have yet to hear any negatives about the project,â Schwartz said, adding that the extra space will increase the safety of the range and reduce conflict. users.
The Flathead Valley Archers, a club of over 90 members, has many members who use the Lone Pine line, including club president Sarah Yerkes.
âThe range offers so many shooting angles in an outdoor setting that looks more like the hunt,â Yerkes said. “You are walking on a trail, so you are on the outside and moving rather than inside shooting at the same target, which can be just plain monotonous.”
“I think adding more makes it all the more worth climbing the mountain,” she added.
Funding for the projects will come from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which aims to increase opportunities for public sport shooting.
Public comment can be provided independently on each project until December 10. Full details of the project, including draft environmental assessments and how to submit comments, can be found online at fwp.mt.gov/news/public-notices.
A virtual public information meeting will be organized online on November 30 at 6 p.m. Visit fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/regions/region1 for login information.