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Riley Archery Range to open this spring

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 11, 2015

 Heritage Park’s new Riley Archery Range will have eight stations for eight shooters to line up and practice target shooting.

Heritage Park’s new Riley Archery Range will have eight stations for eight shooters to line up and practice target shooting.

Photos by Deb Jacques


FARMINGTON HILLS — For some, the harbinger of spring is the American robin, while for Heritage Park, it’s the opening of the new Riley Archery Range. 

“We’ve been shooting archery for a long time,” Special Services Deputy Director Bryan Farmer said on a brisk March 5 afternoon across from the range, 24915 Farmington Road, in Heritage Park’s Stables Art Studio. “It was hard to find a spot to shoot because we didn’t have a range, so we would shoot in the Costick Center gymnasium, shoot in some rooms out here, near the Spicer Barn. So we were thinking, ‘All right, we can’t do a lot of archery because there is no space to shoot.’ People were wanting it bad. We were maxing our classes out, everything.”

The archery range’s humble beginnings also included participants shooting toy bows against dirt piles.

Now, the open-air, indoor/outdoor archery range provides eight shooting lanes, with shooting distances of 10-30 yards. Programs and shooting opportunities are available for people of all ages and abilities, and both bows and crossbows are allowed, according to a press release.

Farmer said the $50,000 archery range started off with a $4,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources in 2011.

“That got us money for the (archery) equipment,” Farmer said, adding that two staff members were also certified to teach archery.

Afterward, archery was taught in after-school programs, camps, senior adult programs and more.

Farmer said that when space became an issue and a consistent program could not be established, an opportunity from Panasonic in September 2013 changed everything.

“They talked to us and asked us if they could help us with any projects, or if there were any opportunities for them to volunteer,” Farmer said.

He said he suggested that the electronics corporation help Heritage Park start the archery range. Panasonic representatives came out, cleaned the area up and donated $9,500 toward the archery range. Local philanthropist George Riley and Safari Club International donated $15,500; remaining funds came from a city parks millage and Flint-based ROWE Professional Services.

Built in the fall of 2014, the final touches, which include park benches, an  Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible pocket park and a paved area, will be complete by this May.

He added that Heritage Park hopes to “open up” the park’s south area so it is more publicly accessible.

“It sort of feels like, are you allowed to drive back here?” he said.

Farmer added that archery has grown as a sport, especially recently, with the help of archery-based films like “The Hunger Games” and “Brave.”

The Riley Archery Range will have a grand opening at 5:30 p.m. July 13 at the range.

Live shooting demos with recurve and compound bows and crossbows will be featured, with an opportunity to shoot, play games and win prizes.

If people are itching to shoot their arrows before the summer, Riley Archery Range will open starting in May, and will offer open shooting hours that vary by season, as well as beginner and intermediate classes; leagues; group lessons for Scouts, corporate groups and others; private lessons; private range rental; camps and more.

Farmington Hills Nature Center Supervisor Ashlie Smith said archery coordinator Nick Di Cresce will run the range.

“Nick Di Cresce comes from Lake St. Clair Metropark, worked at the nature center there, then started his own archery organization, Motor City Archers,” Smith said March 5.

Farmer said that Di Cresce will have archery leagues and teams for schools.

Farmer added that with a plethora of indoor archery ranges and a couple of outdoor ranges, Heritage Park has something unique with an indoor/outdoor wooden structure.

“That idea is going to expand in other communities,” Farmer said.

Farmington Hills resident Katie Lau said she and her husband took an introductory archery class through the city as an alternative to a typical date night. 

“We enjoyed it so much that after the class was finished, I decided to go buy my own bow,” she said in an email. “I really enjoy archery, but most of the ranges are a bit of a drive from here, and now it will be so much more convenient to just drive a few miles to the park to practice my archery skills there instead.”

Lau added that she will look forward to introducing her sons to the sport in a “low-stress environment,” and let them learn at their own pace.

“I’m really looking forward to the new archery range opening. I think we’ll be using it quite a bit,” she added.

Call (248) 473-1841 for more information on camp dates and times.

Call (248) 477-1135 for more information on classes.

Go to for more information.