THE EARLY YEARS
The Sandhills Archery Club was started in Kindred, North Dakota area in the early 1950s. It was made up of local people who built a field archery course along the Cheyenne River southeast of Kindred near the farm of Dennis Lee.
As a point of interest, one of the members of the original Sandhills Archery Club, Lowell Simonson harvested what was probably the first legal deer in the first modern day North Dakota archery deer season in 1954. At 12:10 PM of opening day, Lowell killed a whitetail doe on what was to become the 80-yard target of the front 14 of the outdoor range northeast of Kindred.
The history of our current Sandhills Archery Club has to start with the formation of the Fargo Archery Club. In the early 1970s the City of Fargo closed Dike West for archery use. After a great deal of red tape and meetings with the Park Board, land for a 14 target field archery range was located at the site of the present Trollwood Park in North Fargo. A clubhouse was formed in a building left from the old Cass County Hospital. The club held its first club tournament.
The spring flood of 1975 ruined the outdoor range, vandals burned the clubhouse and the city demolished the remains of the structure.
The archers persisted and Jerome and Gordon Fjelstad made a plot of ground available northeast of Kindred at no charge. Two 14-target field archery courses, a practice range, and tree stand were constructed. The indoor range was established at the American Sportsmans building until it was closed by fire in 1978. After than the archers shot one night a week at St. Anthonys school gymnasium until Tom Lykken opened an indoor range and pro shop in 1980. In 1981 the club moved to the basement of the Moose Lodge in downtown Fargo
NEW 2000 LOCATION
In October of 1999 the indoor range moved from the basement of the Moose Lodge in downtown Fargo where it had operated since 1981. The Indoor Range is now located at the Sandhills Archery Park located in the NW part of West Fargo, ND. The new indoor range has been constructed in the metal storage building and offers a new, heated indoor shooting range. Initially, the range will be open three evenings during the week until April 15th, on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 10:00 PM with days subject to change.
Staffed by volunteers, the range features various leagues including the Bowhunter Sportsmans League which projects pictures of animals on the target wall. The Las Vegas league and the 300 leagues also meet on weekday evenings.
A Range Captain who is in charge of the facilities each evening mans the indoor range. Information for tuning you bow and the paper testing equipment is also available to members during the periods when there is no league shooting taking place.
If you just want to talk to and met other archers, the indoor range is the place to go during the winter months. This facility provides a shooting distance of 10 and 20 yards with good lighting and a safe shooting area.
SANDHILLS ARCHERY PARK
In 1980 a few members of Sandhills Archery started the goal of someday being able to purchase a piece of land to build an out-door archery park. A special fund was started to meet that goal. In the fall of 1994 the club was able to purchase and pay for 25 acres of land located on the west side of West Fargo, North Dakota. The Sandhills Archery Park was born.
· A basic plan was drawn up and a goal was set to make the park handicap accessible.
· An area straight west of the walk-in gate was selected as the picnic area...
· The fire-ring was placed and the 10 existing picnic tables were sprayed and set in place around the fire ring.
· Members paid for all the material and erected a 6 high chain link fence around the property which is bordered on the west by the West Fargo Diversion ditch and the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad on the north.
· 14 field round targets were assembled and erected along the north and west sides of the park.
· 14 lanes were cut through an existing grove of trees for the 3-D animal targets.
· A return lane was cut through the woods from target 28 and exits toward the practice. range.
· Dirt was then hauled to build backstops and elevated lanes to the 14 field round targets and the 14 3-D targets.
· Additional lanes were laid out to the picnic area and the walking lane which circles the pond and connects the practice range, field rounds, picnic area, 3-D targets and future
· The 8 Practice Range targets are set at 10-yard intervals through 60 yards with two additional targets set at 20 yards. The practice range was backed up with an earthen dike about 120 long and 12 high to catch any arrows which might happen to miss a target. An additional dike was also built for the two extra 20-yard targets for closer retrieval of arrows which miss those targets.
· Shelters have been placed in 8 locations around the park. The largest shelter is located just inside the walk-in gate next to the childrens playground.
· Four of the shelters and open picnic tables have been placed in the picnic area around the fire ring. The shelters were hauled in and erected in November & December.
· A kiosk was placed at the Charyl Avenue entry, which supports a Sandhills Archery Park logo sign.
· Another kiosk was placed at the end of the Field Round Course and start of the 3-D Course.
· Installed a combination entry control lock so members do not have to carry keys to gain access to the park.
· In December a 40 by 80 metal storage building was erected with access from the North east side of the parking lot.
· January 6th all the equipment and targets were moved to the new storage building saving the club about $150.00 per month in rental storage costs.
· 50 green ash trees, 8 high, were planted in the spring of 1996.
· The spring brought a flood to the property and delayed early development plans on one hand, and on the other, provided information as to where the trails needed to be built up and where to place drains to go with the natural flow of water through the park.
· A third kiosk was located inside the walk-in gate and provides information about the layout of the park, park rules, a calendar of events and other general information about the park.
· The practice range received an 18 by 96-foot concrete shooting area with nine tables and benches.
· During the summer, with the assistance of the ND Army Reserve a 213 deep well was dug to provide water to the park.
· Electrical service was brought into the park. The service is adequate to meet the needs of the long-term plans for the Archery Park. Initially, cable was laid to the well, the storage building, the playground shelter, the picnic area shelters and the area designated for the new restrooms.
· A septic holding tank was also put in place so we will be able to complete the restrooms once we have the money.
· Sidewalk was poured from walk-in gate past the playground shelter to the practice range.
· Lanes were elevated through the trees.
· Planted 2500 trees around the park
· Purchased the Allis Chalmers B tractor with a belly mower.
· Erected playground equipment just inside the walk-in gate.
· Poured walk up lanes to the 10 and 20 yard targets on the Practice Range.
· Sand was added to the floor of the storage building raising it above the flood level.
· Concrete slabs were hauled into the north part of the storage building.
· The outside perimeter of the building was also built up with railroad ties and rock bed.
· A short sidewalk and small patch of gravel were placed in the parking lot near the walk-in gate for accessibility.
· Cement slabs were poured in seven of the eight shelters around the park.
· An elevated shooting platform was placed at the Broadhead Pit which is located on the Field Round Course.
· Two additional arms were added to the pond doubling the pond size and providing clay for the new road.
· Continued to gravel the parking lot
· Erected light poles from walk-in gate to the picnic area.
· Benches were placed in various locations around the trails and shooting areas.
· Finished graveling the parking lot and adding to the sidewalk on the west side of the parking lot.
· Stocked the pond with fish.
· Bow racks were added to the 3-D range
· New road to the park Archery Avenue NW was built using clay from the pond
· Electricity was run to lights from walk-in gate to the Practice Range, Picnic area and northwest shelter.
· Wood chipped the Broadhead Pit.
· Installed security light on indoor range building and erected 7 light poles in the parking lot.
· Poured a cement floor, insulated, heated and converted the storage building to an indoor shooting range.
· Had a phone installed at the park in the indoor range.
· Moved all the equipment from the downtown indoor range to the indoor range at the park.
· January the new indoor heated range opened at the park.
· Added eight feet across the front of the indoor range to make room for the new restrooms.
· Water line was run with hydrants near the playground shelter and the indoor range.
· Concrete table pads were added in the Picnic area.
· Shelters and kiosks were painted forest green.
· Lights were installed on the practice range to be available between 5 PM and 11 PM daily.
· Additional Flag pole was added by the pond.
· Storage facility was added north of the indoor range.
· A concrete floor was added to the south shelter. Now all shelters have concrete floors and are painted the same.
ANNUAL SHOOTS AND EVENTS
In addition to all the work of operating and building the park, the Sandhills Archery club has a number of annual shoots. These shoots help to raise money for building and improving the park.
The first indoor shoot of the year is scheduled the first weekend on the new year which is a 3-D at the indoor park. Next is the Annual 300 shoot at the park. Feb bring the Annual Playmaker Bowhunters Shootout . March brings the Twin Arrowa Shoot at the West Fargo Veterian Memorial Arena featuring a number of moving 3-D animal targets. A special area is set up for the kids to shoot their own 10-target course.
One of the most popular and well-known shoots is the Bowhunters Rendezvous, which takes place in August at the Sandhills Outdoor Archery Park. This event has the great world famous fish fry on Saturday evening. Archers travel many miles to participate in this shoot which precedes the hunting season opening in September.
Other events include the Wednesday evening social gathering with free hot dogs or whatever we happen to be able to provide during the summer months. An annual Appreciation Dinner is held in the picnic area for those who have donated time, material and equipment for the property.
The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts as well as other youth groups, on request, are taught about the sport of archery with a presentation about the equipment, the art of archery shooting and hunting and then given a hands on experience with equipment provided by the Club.
THE WILDLIFE AND
Providing a natural habitat for wildlife is another goal in operating the park. As you walk through the wooded area of the park you will find areas have been left natural so small game has protection for survival. The area to the south of the dike built for the practice range is large enough to provide a meadow area for larger game. We often see deer wandering through the park.
The pond has been dug with depths exceeding 15 feet so the fish which have been stocked should be able to survive the winter months. The pond also provides kids and opportunity to learn to fish in a catch-and-release environment. The island was left to provide waterfowl protection from predators. The pond was designed with multiple fingers so the waterfowl would have more than one nesting area.
Various Cub Scout troops have built and placed birdhouses throughout the park to help attract a wide variety of birds.
Following the Forest Resource Management Plan, about 20 varieties of trees were planted around the park. In total, over 2,500 trees were planted. The plan called for a wildlife habitat area and the creation of wildlife tree planting, maintaining an existing shelter belt, development of a wildlife pond, creating a wildlife food plot and seeding an area of the park to native grasses that will represent the tall grass prairie of eastern North Dakota. A special planting of 47 Green Ash trees which were approximately eight feet tall were planted along the lane from the walk in gate to the picnic area and north past the entrance to the 3-D targets and then northeast to the back side of the pond.
There are about 3 1/2 miles of trails at the park. All trails will be made accessible for those with handicaps. The main trail from the walk-in gate and on around the pond and over to the picnic area and practice range need to be made wide enough to accommodate service vehicles and if ever necessary, an ambulance. All of the shooting and walking lanes need to be packed, leveled and covered with some kind of surface to keep them firm.
We are encouraging members and interested groups to build bird houses for placing around the park. Birds, which live on insects, will be attracted and help to control the insect population.
The playground needs to have a sand base to keep the kids out of the mud and eliminate the ever-present weeds.
These are just a few of the things that we hope to accomplish this year. Along with this work we have the on-going maintenance and grooming of the trails and general grounds. We are planning to convert the open areas to native prairie grass and make the pond an attraction to waterfowl.
Building a handicapable archery park is like building a house....one thing seems to lead to another. All the trees that have been planted led to the need or a way to cultivate them and keep the weeds under control. The park is maintained by the volunteered time of club members.
Sandhills Archery Club of Fargo is a non-profit organization developing the first handicapped accessible Archery Park in the state of North Dakota. This park will be a family oriented, multi-use facility that the entire community can enjoy. We are planning to build not only an archery range, but also picnic shelters, a walking path, playground and wildlife habitat area, including a pond for waterfowl and food plot for wildlife.
Safety is always being considered at the Sandhills Archery Park. The park meets the approval of the National Field Archery Association, which also provides insurance for the park. The layout of the park has been inspected and approved for safety.
Among other things, the Sandhills Archery Club provides an opportunity to children of all ages (at no cost) to develop their archery skills, become involved in a hobby or sport, learn responsibility, and develop a respect for nature and the environment. By providing a structured activity under close adult supervision, we hope to help these children build character and grow into contributing members of society.