Tribune-Courier News Reporter
AURORA – Kenlake State Resort Park will celebrate the opening of a new 3D archery course with a ceremony Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. in the former pro shop.
Participants are invited to try out the new course free of charge on that day.
The archery course takes the place of a nine-hole golf course that closed last year as a result of declining revenue.
Park manager Joe Mounce said closing the golf course was a tough decision to make but as soon as it became clear that was necessary, park management began sorting through ideas to repurpose the property.
“At that time, no one knew it was going to be archery but definitely wanted to do something with it and offer another amenity in its place,” Mounce said.
An archery course was chosen for several reasons, he said, including an increased number of competitive archery teams in surrounding counties’ schools, the park’s proximity to Land Between the Lakes (LBL) and the increased popularity of the sport thanks to movies such as “The Hunger Games.”
“You got a lot of young people right now interested in it that 10 years ago wouldn’t have even thought about doing it,” Mounce said.
The transformation from golf course to archery course required very little work, Mounce said. Branches were trimmed and the layout was designed with safety aspects in mind, but there was no movement of ground and the path was already paved.
The course feels somewhat like a safari with a variety of targets including deer, mountain lions, bears, warthogs, rams and wolves.
Mounce said there are 30 targets because the park plans to host organized tournaments and 30 targets is a standard tournament regulation.
Mounce said Kenlake is being considered as a host for a statewide Scholastic 3D series in the spring. Kenlake also plans to host adult tournaments at the park level in the spring.
Mounce said the archers will shoot from positions marked by orange paint on the path. The spots were chosen because there’s land behind each target to catch stray arrows.
Each target presents a new challenge because each is a different distance from the path. Targets are placed at different angles (some uphill and some downhill) and some require the archer to shoot through tree branches. The warthog, the longest-range target, is 53 yards from the path.
Archers must provide their own equipment.
“As long as the arrows are field tips, archers will be allowed to use recurve, compound or crossbows, just no broadheads (arrows) because it would destroy the targets,” Mounce explained.
The course will be open year-round during daylight hours. Archers can purchase passes in the hotel lobby.
An annual pass will be available for $75. A daily pass will also be available: $12 for adults over 18 and $5 for archers 18 and under.
Mounce said he has received several requests for archery lessons.
“We don’t currently have anyone on staff that’s certified to do that, but we’ll probably be getting some folks certified and that way, in the future, we could begin to offer some beginner courses,” Mounce said.