A dispute over parking fees with the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department has forced cancellation of the annual ‘Bug Shoot’ sponsored by the Mt. Madonna Bowmen at the Mt. Madonna public archery range.
In response, the club said it intends to stop performing maintenance chores at the popular mountain top archery range.
“They want us to build and maintain the range for free, but still pay the parking fee,” said Mt. Madonna Bowmen Club President Curtis Campisi. “We’re volunteering to maintain the range but it’s going to cost us $6 every time we go to work. When you take the parking away, there is no benefit.”
Of the three events the Mt. Madonna Bowmen host each year, the Bug Shoot is the largest and most financially important event of the year. The event, which attracts 350 to 400 archers from around the state, brings in between $3,000 and $5,000 every year — roughly what it costs to maintain the range.
Because of the parking fees, the Mt. Madonna Bowmen stopped performing maintenance on the range in August. The loss of the range is a blow to the club as membership decreases.
“Our club membership has dwindled and it’s hard to get help out there,” Campisi said. “We saw the writing on the wall. So members didn’t want to do anything.”
Other than for special events like the Bug Shoot, which requires a permit from the parks department, the range is free and open to the public, Except for the parking fee. How much longer it will remain open is unclear to Campisi.
“They have no way of doing the maintenance and they don’t have the knowledge as to how to do it,” Campisi said. “They don’t understand archery.”
For the Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Department, withdrawing free parking at Mt. Madonna was a way to be consistent with the other archery ranges within county parks, which do not provide free parking.
“I understand that this has been a change for them, but for us to be consistent with all our permit holders, we can’t allow free parking to use the range,” said Santa Clara County Parks and Recreation Public Relations Officer Tamara Clark. “We did offer them a day pass when they are doing the actual maintenance, but they will no longer park for free to use the range.”
Aside from the revenue, the club expects to receive from tournaments, Campisi, owner of Predator’s Archery in Gilroy, believes that his shop, along with other local businesses, will suffer financially.
“The loss of the range will have an impact on businesses that sell equipment, but archers who come to the event stay at local hotels and eat at local restaurants,” Campisi said. “The ranges are also used by local boy scout and girl scout groups, and we also do work with local veterans groups.”