Archery is one of 135-plus activities in which Boy Scouts earn merit badges. Complete the requirements, and you’re one badge closer to filling your merit-badge sash. But what if archery is more than a badge? What if your love of archery catapults you to the highest rank in Scouting? For Boy Scout Brian Amundson, it just might.
The Mississippi River County Park in Stearns County, Minnesota, received a makeover this summer when Amundson, 15, built an 11-target archery range for his Eagle Scout project.
Amundson, a ninth-grader at Sartell High School, has been an archer since he was 2 or 3 years old, and a bowhunter since age 12. He saw a need for the project in August 2015 after getting a 30- to 40-minute ride to the nearest archery range at St. Joe’s to practice.
“Most people build birdhouses or clear trails for their Eagle Scout projects,” Amundson said. “I noticed there weren’t a lot of public archery ranges in the area, but (there was) a bunch of avid outdoorsmen and women who like to shoot. It just made sense.”
After getting serious about building the range, he approached the city of Sartell and discussed his idea with city advisers. Later, he worked with the park operations coordinator for Stearns County, Ben Anderson, who is also a bowhunter. Anderson jumped on the idea, and the pair pinpointed a location for the range, and awaited its approval.
The project quickly outgrew Amundson’s initial plans.
“There were only going to be six targets, but the project kept growing,” Amundson said. “There were so many people who wanted to help, and we ended up with 11 shooting stations.”
Amundson’s father, Ben Amundson – scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 211 – also played a big role in the project. The father-son team received help from county workers, fellow troop members, and members of the St. Stephen Sportsmen Club. Area businesses also made multiple donations.
Nearly a year after Brian Amundson conceived the idea, the plan was fully developed and the Amundsons scheduled the first work day for May 7. Amundson and his volunteer crew built 11 shooting stations, complete with donated granite slabs and targets at 10 to 80 yards. They built and installed PVC bow-and-arrow holders at each station, and posted signs and rules on and around the range.
According to an article by The Daily Progress, the park also has a gravel parking lot with 10 parking stalls, a mowed range and a wooden picnic table.
The grand opening was Aug. 13. “I got to thank the county, donors and everyone involved,” Brian Amundson said. “I also got to shoot the ceremonial first shot!”
Amundson said the range is a safe, clean, well-maintained place with a friendly, laid-back atmosphere. He enjoys spending time there, and loves shooting arrows.
“Archery helps me relieve stress,” Amundson said. “I practice a lot and really enjoy shooting. It’s nice to get outside, walk around and have fun with my family.”
He also thinks the range will help bring the community together.
“I’ve driven by the range a few times and there are always vehicles there,” Amundson said. “I think more people will get involved in archery because the range is in a convenient location, and shooting a bow is a fun activity.”
The range is open to the public and admission is free. An onsite donation box supports the cost of replacement targets and other expenses.
Amundson thinks other cities need more archery ranges, and hopes his idea will encourage other communities to build one.
Visit your local archery store to learn more about archery in your community. It’s not just about products. Your local retailer can direct you to community programs, tournaments and places to shoot.