Playing games with your family and enjoying nature at a park bring to mind lovely images of warm summer happiness, but some state parks have suffered serious budget cuts the past few years. The Pew Charitable Trusts reports “shrinking budgets have prompted park officials to look for new sources of funding.” So, what to do?
Well, look no further. State parks in Georgia and Utah have introduced archery and disc golf – two growing sports – into their repertoire to help solve this issue, and ensure loads of state-park fun and summer happiness for years to come.
Kim Hatcher, public affairs coordinator of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, said interest in archery has grown the past few years, especially after the “Hunger Games” and “Brave” movies. “Panola Mountain State Park’s classes are popular year-round since the park has outdoor and indoor ranges,” Hatcher said. “Sometimes classes are filled by birthday parties or meetup clubs, so it’s good for groups as well as individuals. People can play with regular targets or with 3-D turkeys, bear, deer – even a dinosaur.”
Meanwhile, Utah’s state parks are using archery and disc golf to generate funding after its budget was cut over four-fold from the previous allowance in 2015. Parks Director Fred Hayes told Pew: “State funding for operating expenses went from $18 million in 2011 to $4 million in 2015. Utah parks still get $4 million from the state for operations, but they now take in $47 million on their own.”
The Pew report states that Utah put up disc golf in empty fields and hosted archery sessions after school to attract people at times they might not usually visit. So if you’re looking for an after-class or after-work activity, maybe the archery range at your local park is calling your name.
Tim Smith, southeast region manager for Utah State Parks, sent me a note about their archery course. He wrote: “We’ve been very pleased with the course and are planning to add a 15-foot high platform so archers can work on that tree-stand shot.” If you’ve thought about bowhunting your own meat, then that platform might be just what you need to prep for next fall’s deer season.
Smith also discussed the impact of the disc golf course, which launched in May 2015. “To date we have brought in $9,975 in course fees, cart rentals and merchandise sales,” he said. “We have also brought in approximately $1,500 in additional campsite fees. An unanticipated success has been the economic contribution to the community of Green River.”
Tournaments at Utah parks also attract outside interest. “The disc golf tournaments have been filled exclusively by folks from out of town, and the last tournament had participants from six states,” Smith said.
Archery and Disc Golf go Hand-in-Hand
Both archery and disc golf are great activities for individuals of any age, and both sports are ideal for people who aren’t into team sports, and perform better in activities requiring only their own abilities. There is little or no pressure in these sports. If you miss the first shot, you can adapt and make changes specific to your abilities.
Another common factor is “granularity.” The Professional Disc Golf Association (PDGA) defines granularity as “a combination of two factors: scoring progression and penalty progression.”
Archery has strong granularity. The units of measurement for scoring are cut and dried. The PDGA states: “An archer is awarded 10 points for an arrow that lands in the center circle, with the value of each ring decreasing by 1 point as the arrows land farther from the center. The more skillful the shot, the higher the score. Plain and simple.”
In disc golf, many outside factors contribute to your score. It’s like traditional golf, but instead of sinking a ball in a hole, competitors must throw a Frisbee to a designated target area (usually a metal basket) in the fewest possible throws. Hitting one obstacle affects the rest of the hole, albeit minimally. “Landing a disc in sand, rough, mud, rocks and even shallow water has minimal impact to granularity in disc golf, as it is often still fairly easy to throw from those hazards,” PDGA notes.
Once the arrow or disc leaves the player’s hands, the shot is over. If you miss your target –a disc-golf basket or archery target’s center ring – you must refocus for the next shot. Each new shot or throw provides an opportunity to improve. Maybe you need to focus on your stance, aim or follow-through. Whether you’re releasing an arrow or a Frisbee, proper form will get you closer to hitting your target and achieving your goals.
Disc golf and archery are great family sports during summer. They’re also fun for friends to challenge each other. Whatever you choose, both activities create great summer memories. Check out your local park’s summer offerings, then head to your local archery shop to get started in archery today.