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For Release: Thursday, June 17, 2021

DEC Announces Opening of Saratoga Sand Plains Archery Range

Archery Range is First of its Kind Managed by New York State

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the opening of the Saratoga Sand Plains Archery Range in the town of Wilton, Saratoga County. The public archery range, formally known as Parcel 45 Wildlife Management Area, is the first of its kind in New York State and will provide a unique recreational opportunity for both novice and expert bow hunters and archers.

"DEC's first-ever archery range, Saratoga Sand Plains will encourage more New Yorkers to take up archery as a sport and help prepare hunters for the hunting season," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "New and experienced bow and crossbow users will appreciate this opportunity to enjoy the recreational aspects of New York's archery heritage. The range will also benefit the local community, and DEC thanks the town of Wilton and our other partners for their help to develop and open this new facility."

The 50-yard archery range has 16 targets, eight adult lanes ranging from 15 to 50 yards, four youth lanes ranging from five to 20 yards, and four lanes accessed by an elevated platform ranging up to 40 yards. The elevated platform simulates shots from a tree stand when deer hunting and allows archers to practice shots from known yardages and angles, promoting safer shot placements for both urban and rural settings. Archers must use a full body harness and connect to the carabiners on the platform while using the elevated stand.

The archery range was designed to be suitable for families with children and seniors. The 700-foot-long access path that extends from the gravel parking lot to the archery range is a compacted natural surface of forest leaf litter that provides a firm and mostly level entry with a slope of less than four percent. The range was funded with approximately $15,000 with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program (leaves DEC's website), New York State, and the town of Wilton. DEC worked closely with the town of Wilton on all phases of the project. The town donated time and materials, and town equipment helped clear trees and stumps, build the parking area, and construct the elevated platform.

"Wildlife Restoration funding is an important resource for state fish and wildlife agencies to provide safe and clean public target shooting opportunities," said Richard Zane, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who advised DEC on this project. "These target ranges are great places for families to participate in outdoor activities and are important in local communities and youth programs as well."

Wilton Town Supervisor John Lant said, "This archery park is a great amenity to have for the sport enthusiast in our area and for the residents of Wilton. It has been a pleasure working with DEC on this project."

Wilton Director of Planning and Engineering Ryan Riper said, "The archery project is an example of a successful joint effort between DEC and the municipality for the benefit of the community. Both entities have been working over the last couple years to bring this into fruition. I hope this project will foster other like-minded recreational enhancements in our area for the public enjoyment."

The archery range is close to several schools that participate in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) and is a convenient location for the Saratoga County 4H Shooting Sports Program and DEC's bowhunter education classes.

The former Parcel 45 Wildlife Management Area received heavy use from firearm target shooters. Melissa Neely, Senior Wildlife Biologist and Regional Hunter Education Coordinator for DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife Resources, redesigned the parcel to create a safe recreational area for the community while prioritizing hunters and archers. The Saratoga Sand Plains Archery Range is now designated as a safety zone prohibiting the use of firearms.

The archery range is open and maintained year-round for public use. To protect public safety, the following rules and regulations apply:

  • The range is only open during daylight hours, except by permit;
  • No alcoholic beverages allowed;
  • Arrows may only be nocked onto the bowstring when standing on the shooting line preparing to shoot;
  • Shooting is allowed only from the shooting line and only into the designated targets;
  • Shooters are allowed to bring and shoot at a paper target placed on an existing target as long as it is removed from the range once an individual has finished shooting. Personal targets are not allowed on range, except by permit;
  • Bows must be hung on the bow hanger behind the shooting line when waiting to shoot or while archers are down range retrieving arrows. No shooting shall be allowed while anyone is down range;
  • All persons are to remain behind the shooting line while shooting is taking place;
  • Arrows from bows of 30-pound draw weight or more may only be shot into the targets on the adult range. Arrows from bows of less than 30-pound draw weight may be shot into targets on the youth or adult range;
  • Only arrows with field or target points may be used or possessed on range. No broadheads may be possessed on the range, except by permit;
  • All individuals standing on or utilizing the elevated platform must wear a full body harness, including shoulder and leg straps, and attach themselves to the appropriate safety cable carabineer; and
  • There are no trash receptacles on site. Please carry out all trash and dispose of it at home.

To improve public safety and encourage visitors to State-owned and managed lands to practice responsible recreation, DEC recently launched the 'Love Our New York Lands' campaign. The campaign is responsive to the steady increase in the number of visitors to state lands, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the decade prior, as more and more New Yorkers and visitors from other states and countries discovered the natural beauty of New York State lands, particularly the Adirondack and Catskill parks. The campaign bolsters ongoing State- and partner-led efforts to educate the public about how to responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation on public lands without negatively impacting natural resources. The campaign will implement a variety of multi-media and in-person strategies to promote Leave No Trace™ principles, hiker preparedness and safety, sustainable use, and responsible trip planning, as well as reinforce the role of DEC professionals who protect public lands and manage public access, including DEC Foresters, Natural Resource Planners, Forest Rangers, Assistant Forest Rangers, and natural resource stewards. For details and more information, visit the Love Our New York Lands webpage.

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