Kalispell — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is proposing to develop a new archery range at the Big Arm Unit of Flathead Lake State Park near Polson and expand the current range at Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell.
Both projects aim to take advantage of grant funding from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson Act), administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that is aimed at increasing public shooting sport opportunities.
FWP is seeking public input on the projects separately, and the deadline to comment is Dec. 10, 2021. Project details, including how to comment, are available in draft environmental assessments published online at https://fwp.mt.gov/news/public-notices. A virtual public information meeting will be hosted online for both projects on Nov. 30 at 6 p.m., and login information will be available at https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/regions/region1.
The new archery range would be located on a parcel of Big Arm State Park that is located on the west side of US Highway 93 directly across from the park’s main entrance. This parcel is currently utilized for dispersed hiking. The archery range would include a gravel parking lot, an entry kiosk with informational and regulatory signage, a precast vault latrine, a 30’ x 15’ covered firing line, and lockable storage for archer lessons and practice. An archery range trail with up to 12 shooting stations would also be developed within the project area. One shooting station would include an elevated shooting platform. Shooting stations would be located to ensure safe backdrops and distances from park boundaries.
This public archery range would be a valuable amenity in Lake County and the Polson area, as there are currently no public archery ranges in that area. The nearest public range is located 41 miles north at Lone Pine State Park.
At Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell, FWP is proposing to purchase 9.3 acres of property that would add capacity to the park’s existing archery range. The current range offers six shooting stations and has seen a significant increase in use. Self-registration at the Lone Pine range indicates a 33% increase in use in the past few years.
The subject property is located adjacent to the existing archery range and would provide additional target locations. The topography of this undeveloped property would provide safe and diverse target locations, while adding an additional safety buffer from adjoining private properties.
The Lone Pine State Park archery range is the only developed, outdoor public archery range in the Flathead Valley. It has become increasingly popular as a location to learn and improve archery skills.
Montana has a growing number of schools participating in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP). More than 70 schools are enrolled in the program, and northwest Montana is growing its enrollment with 18 schools/programs enrolled. Since 2019, 5 new schools in northwest Montana have enrolled in the program due to resources and opportunities provided by FWP and its sites, such as the archery range at Lone Pine State Park. The NASP program can be taught indoors using the school’s gymnasium or outdoors. Ranges such as the one in this proposal provide opportunities for NASP programs, trainings, and public education events that promote NASP and bowhunter education.