The local paper posted an article dated 09-19-08 that the city counsel was preparing to pass an ordinance that banned archery in the City of Surprise, unless it was at an approved range. There are no ranges in our city. I sent a letter to my representative, and have posted it below, along with email address. Please send support for a modification for the ordinance, to include the use of home ranges and schools.
My letter to Mr. Williams:
I am a relatively new resident of Surprise, with our new home that is built in Surprise Farms. I am a police officer for El Mirage, and recently transferred down as a detective from the Flagstaff Police Department. Family is important to me, and activities that promote family time together top that list. While in Flagstaff, I had the opportunity to shoot archery in my backyard, with my children and wife. It is a pastime that we all enjoy. I have a history with the sport of archery, to include bow hunting and shooting archery for Glendale Community College in the early 1990's, and being ranked nationally. I have represented the State of AZ in a tournament against archers from the State of California, Baja California and Sonora Mexico. We took 1st place individually and as a team.
Archery once was taught in high schools in AZ and across the nation. It is a pastime that can be shared for generations. My father taught me to shoot archery, and I have taught my children. The proposed ban of shooting archery in our city at facilities that are not deemed "target ranges", limits that family interaction. The City of Surprise does not currently have an archery range. The closest archery range is the facility at the Ben Avery Shooting facility, which is approximately 1 hour away from my house. A total of 2 hours of driving time (to and fro) for approximately 30 minutes of shooting with my children is a detriment to my family's personal quality time together.
As a police officer, I understand the call for the general safety of the public. I understand that the "wants" of an individual are outweighed by the "needs" of the many. However, I respectfully request that the counsel review the proposed ordinance carefully and perhaps apply words that allow for private home ranges, if safety precautions are heeded. I understand that the ordinance will also ban the firing of pneumatic weapons, which can be used for intentionally destructive purposes, i.e... breaking windows.
The difference between firing a pneumatic weapon and archery equipment boils down to the traceable, recoverable evidence should a mishap occur. A pellet fired from a gun is non-distinct. An arrow fired from a bow is unique, often with different color feathers/vanes, color and material of the shaft, and color of the nock. Often, one arrow will be part of a matched set that the archer owns.
The home range can be constructed in the privacy of a person's fenced, back yard. The fence would provide privacy from neighbors, and protection from an errant arrow. The target shall be placed so that it is not in a direct line with an adjoining neighbor's residential structure. The target shall also be constructed of a material that adequately stops the arrow, and prevents it from completely passing through the intended target.
The lack of an archery range in the City of Surprise will potentially have an effect on the game animals hunted in the State. Inadequate practice could result in the wounding of game animals that may not have been wounded if bowhunters had the opportunity to practice at their residences with an adequate practice facility.
The ordinance would also potentially prohibit the teaching of archery at the local high schools. In a society where apathy and the lack of exercise for children has resulted in enormous amounts of childhood obesity, removing the ability to teach an outdoor sport to children may have long term effects that are not immediately realized.
I respectfully request, as a representative for my district, that you word the ordinance that would provide safety for the public, yet not restrict honest measures taken by home owners to have an adequate home archery range in the privacy of their own fenced back yard, as long as an adequate target/backstop is provided. If the arrows need to be even more traceable, make it an ordinance that requires the archer's initials be embossed or painted on the arrow. In addition, please word the ordinance to include the ability to have archery programs at local schools and public ranges.
I am posting a copy of this letter on message boards via the internet with email addresses for each district's representative. This is an attempt to rally support on the behalf of archers in our city.
Thank you in advance.
John E. Heffelfinger
Surprise District 3 resident