Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston is now home to an archery range, thanks to grant funds from mParks.

Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston is now home to an archery range, thanks to grant funds from mParks.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Oakland County aims to revive archery at new range

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published June 20, 2019

 Zach Miller, 14, and his sister, Addyson Miller, 11, of Ortonville, test their shooting skills during an archery open house June 15.

Zach Miller, 14, and his sister, Addyson Miller, 11, of Ortonville, test their shooting skills during an archery open house June 15.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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OAKLAND COUNTY — The Oakland County Parks and Recreation Department introduced its newest attraction last weekend, meant to be a plucking good time for guests of all ages.

Families were invited out to Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston June 15 for an introductory open house at the new archery range. The large, open, grassy space that once served as a baseball field next to the park’s swimming beach is now home to a handful of targets where visitors can bust out their bow and arrow, or borrow a set from the park.

Recreation Program Supervisor Melissa Nawrocki said the system of 13 parks and growing is always looking to change things up and engage more residents. If the program goes over well with visitors, archery ranges could be added to other Oakland County parks.

“Archery is a sport that was kind of declining. We’re not seeing a whole lot of the next generation coming out or choosing to do it, whether it’s for hunting or just target shooting,” Nawrocki explained.

With a great Michigan sport on the decline, the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, or mParks, provided Independence Oaks with a grant to open an archery range for beginner classes and open shooting.

But don’t mistake open shooting with reckless shooting. Because there are plenty of rules and safety considerations every Robin Hood wannabe has to follow at the range.

“We take a lot of pride in making sure that everyone is safe and learning what they need to be learning,” Nawrocki said. “We try to teach them technique and the whistle commands and all that stuff, but they’re getting to shoot and hone their skill all at the same time.”

Ready to put his skills to the test was 9-year-old Ryan Legg, of Clarkston, who came to the open house with his dad, Mike Legg. They said they’re frequent visitors of Independence Oaks, and they saw the range being built some time ago, so they were excited to give it a whirl.

“(We’re here) to get out and do something,” Ryan Legg said. “All the times we were at Bass Pro Shop doing archery, I wanted to get outside to do it for once.”

Just a few lanes down from Ryan and his dad were twin sisters Alyssa and Sarah Corby, 9, of Holly. Their mother, Rachel Corby, said it was nice to hear about the archery program at the park, which is different from anything her daughters have tried before.

“We thought we’d come check it out. It’s something to expose our children to because they’re at that age where you want them to try something new,” Corby said.

And there’s always something to learn from new experiences, right? Archery is a great way to teach and sharpen patience, hand-eye coordination, strength, focus and lots more, according to Nawrocki. The focus needed to make accurate shots can also serve as a bit of meditation and stress relief. Not to mention, it’s just plain fun.

Now that the range is up and running, visitors can head to the Oakland County Parks and Recreation website to learn more about class schedules and open shooting times. Beginner classes will be offered through the summer and into the fall in six-week courses in the evenings. Students need to be at least 8 or older, and equipment is provided.

Open shooting at the range is offered Fridays and Saturdays unless otherwise noted on the park’s website. During those sessions, trained staff will be on hand to assist with instruction and safety protocols. Guests can bring their own equipment, with the exception of crossbows. During open shooting, there is a $5 range fee, and a $5 equipment rental fee if needed.

For all range guests, closed-toe shoes are recommended. For more information, including schedules and class pricing, call (248) 858-0916 or visit oaklandcountyparks.com.

Independence Oaks County Park is located at 9501 Sashabaw Road in Clarkston.

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