Parks Dept. left archery range in shambles

I was very happy to see the March 23 Dispatch article informing local people about how someone at the Santa Clara County Parks Department is trying to ruin the Mt. Madonna Park archery range. I have spoken to over a dozen credible sources about this travesty.

The archery range began in 1957 by a group who became known as the Mt. Madonna Bowmen. From 1961, when a contract was made between the Bowmen and the parks department, until the end of 2017, the group has built and maintained the range in exchange for free day use of the park. This was cost-effective for the parks department and good for local archers. It has been a successful relationship since 1961—the epitome of a win-win situation.

During this 60-year span, there has never been an archery injury on the range. There have been injuries—and even a death—due to falling trees in the parks; there have been horseback and motorcycle injuries and animal attacks, but not one archery accident! Consider this timeline:  

2014: Someone employed by the county claimed people were drinking on the range and declared that to be unsafe. Although some derelicts, clearly not archers, are often seen staggering around the park, to appease any concerns, alcohol was prohibited on the range. This also when the parks department got an upstart director named Rob Courtney.

2015: Four stations on the range were suddenly deemed unsafe. These four stations had been there since 1961 with never an accident. Members of the National Field Archery Association, who are far more educated about archery than any Mt. Madonna ranger, said that if those stations were truly such a concern, any of the following would have sufficed: a plywood backstop, shortened distance or the angle moved as much as 30 degrees. The Bowmen offered to build these and began construction.

2016-17: Six more stations (that have also been there since 1961) are now suddenly unsafe. They claimed arrows would go 1,500 yards!

2018: After every concern was addressed (i.e., viable solutions proposed), and they had no new lies to churn up, the parks department claimed that the successful, 57-year relationship is now in some sort of legal violation!

It is very clear and disappointing that in no uncertain terms, someone is deliberately setting the range up for closure. What else could be the motive behind this? By severing the relationship with the Bowmen, the range is not even insured any more. The range is now in shambles. With some of the stations completely taken down, a first-timer can’t even find his way to the next target in at least four places. The direction signs are either down, gone or hidden behind the overgrowth. The bales (targets) at the sight-in station (the main one by the parking lot) are so worn, arrows shoot right through them.  

The parks department, particularly director Courtney, must be proud!

Alan Viagengo

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