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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Bryant/The Weekly Vista John Curtis with Hook Line & Sinker in Bentonville lines up a shot in the fishing and archery shop's basement archery range.

A group of Bella Vista residents are working to convince the POA to put together an archery range.

Bella Vista resident Hoss Diego said the push started in July last year when he and others approached the POA's recreation committee to request a range.

"There are several hundred people that want an archery range in Bella Vista," he said. "Right now, people are shooting in their backyards."

An open-to-the-public meeting is scheduled this Saturday, March 16, at the POA's Arkmo land, near the gate on Gordon Hollow Drive.

Diego said he hopes for a strong turnout to demonstrate an interest in the proposed range.

It wouldn't cost much and it would provide a great deal of utility to hunters who need to practice before archery season starts, as well as for athletes, including student archers.

Schools in the area, including Cooper Elementary, have archery programs, but the space is limited by, among other things, the physical space in which students can shoot. An outdoor range could help these programs expand, he said.

The programs help kids who may be less inclined to pick up a traditional team sport to develop discipline and confidence, in addition to excellent archery skills.

"These kids are shooting at distances up to 90 meters away with recurve bows with no sights," Diego said.

Ashlee Lunsford, who coaches the archery program at Cooper Elementary, said this outdoor range could be a huge help for her archery students.

"The biggest benefit that the kids will have is that they will get to practice year-round," she said. "They only get to practice maybe five months out of the school year."

Currently, the three-week unit is open to second-, third- and fourth-grade students. It's in its sixth year, with more than 300 kids participating, she said.

Old High Middle School also has an archery program, she said.

One student, Finley Knaup, 10, was reportedly changed by the archery team.

Her mother, Bella Vista resident Jennifer Knaup, said she opened up after starting archery.

"She's very talkative at home. At school she's always been very quiet, very reserved," Jennifer Knaup said. "She's a totally different kid; it's incredible. Her confidence in herself -- at the age of 10 she understands the importance of the team."

At a recent state competition, Finley Knaup came and shot despite being sick because she felt the need to back up her team, Jennifer Knaup explained.

But right now, her practice space is extremely limited -- she can either practice at home or at Hook Line & Sinker, which Knaup said is a nice shop but can get cramped at times.

Nick Gann, owner of Hook, Line & Sinker, said he estimates there are thousands of people interested in archery here in Bella Vista.

"It's not a few hundred, it's a bunch," he said. "When you count all the school kids and all the people who hunt, there are thousands."

Gann said he sells about 380 bows in a typical year and maybe 20 percent of those are repeat buyers. And even in the off-season, he said, his repair rack is staying full.

The shop's indoor range sees an estimated 30 to 40 users in a typical week, he explained, but the space -- particularly the distance -- is limited and many people would like to be able to shoot at 40 to 50 yards.

Knaup agreed and said her daughter is an avid shooter and would love more space to shoot.

"There are experiences you had in life that changed you and gave you confidence ... and that's what archery has done for her," Knaup said. "She loved it; that's her only thing she asked for for her birthday is a bow."

Sports on 03/13/2019

Print Headline: Bella Vistans aim for archery range

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