Lancaster County in Pennsylvania Gets Archery Range for Brecknock

After a long wait, it looks like residents of northern Lancaster County are going to have their archery range.

Brecknock township is located at the north end of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Lancaster is an area known for its fertile soils and high-output farming. The county is also home to a large farming community including the Amish, a religious group, and other similar orders of old-fashioned farmers, some of whom still work the land with horses and travel in horse-drawn carriages instead of cars for religious reasons.

Now, as large parts of Lancaster’s rural heritage fall to residential development, Brecknock remains a kind of rural outpost.

Drive the township’s roads, and instead of long lines of cars and trucks, you’ll see a scooter, a buggy, or someone riding along the shoulder of the road on a bicycle.

In today’s landscape, Brecknock is a ‘country place’, a place where people enjoy the outdoors.

Now, Brecknock’s planners have given the green light to a proposal for a free public archery range, so that bowhunters, school groups, and all other kinds of archers will have a place to practice their time-honored art.

It wouldn’t have been possible without Brubaker Park, the township’s impressive public green space.

The park, opened in 1996, is 56 acres, and in July of 2006, township planners announced they have an agreement with property owners to add another 33 acres to the public area.

According to Brecknock’s supervisor and roadmaster Arthur Zerbe, Brubaker is the largest township park in the state of Pennsylvania.

He says when state representatives came to look at Brubaker, they were “completely amazed” that a park of its size and scope could be built without grant money.

Zerbe, in comments March 7, listed some of the many amenities of the park: elaborate stonework, multiple baseball fields, tennis courts, a lake stocked annually with trout, and a running course for use by the region’s Garden Spot School District.

Soon, if some residents have their way, the park will be home to an outdoor archery range.

Zerbe, an avid bowhunter, was a proponent of the range from day 1.

In October of 2005, he asked the board to consider opening the range based on a survey sent out to Brecknock’s residents asking them to list new features that they would like to see in Brubaker.

An archery range, said Zerbe, ranked high on the list.

His fellow supervisors tabled the project, citing safety and insurance concerns.

So when the next hunting season rolled around, Zerbe returned to the subject, this time with the assistance of the township’s Park and Rec board.

In the board’s October 2006 meeting, Park and Rec board member Deb Crivelli spoke up to recommend the range.

Apparently, just like in real estate, it all comes down to location.

Crivelli said a new site proposed by the Park and Rec board is perfect for an archery course.

The green space is removed from public traffic. A fence on one side and a stream on the other keep foot traffic removed from the site.

There’s another reason, said Zerbe and Crivelli, that the township should consider it for archery use.

The land lies in a flood plain, narrowing its potential uses.

“It’s a nice spot for a course.” said Crivelli.

She told supervisors the park and rec board had not pushed for a course in 2005 because the site was not right.

“I’m safety oriented.” said Crivelli, who works for an insurance company. “That’s my profession.”

“We had deliberations.” she said, talking about the need to keep pedestrians, especially childen, away from any open target space.

As Brecknock’s board of supervisors met in March, chairman Levi Hoover gave an informal ‘conditional approval’ to the project.

“I dragged my feet on this for a couple of years.” said Hoover, citing safety concerns. He said he now wants to review rules and regulations for the course, but suggested there will be no additional objections from the board.

Who will use the range?

Many of the range’s users might be minors.

In March, Zerbe said Garden Spot students, particularly the Future Farmers of America club, use the park all the time.

“We have children everywhere.” said Zerbe, confident that future use will only grow.

But Crivelli said that residents of all ages have been requesting a public archery range since their only current option is an indoor range at a local store that charges a fee.

She also agreed with Zerbe that a public range will alleviate the problem of residents setting up target areas in their backyards.

In October, Zerbe said he sees targets set up behind or between houses every year, and suggested when Brecknock citizens have a public, supervised range to go to, they won’t create danger by practicing at home.

According to the plan, the Northwestern Rod and Gun club will be responsible for setting up rules and regulations for the range.

The club volunteered to take charge of the project, and met March 15 to talk about how the range will be managed.

On March 19, the club’s chairman Dean Burkholder said although there is still much to be done, the club members are getting ready to make the archery range a reality.

Burkholder called Brubaker Park the “best kept secret” of Lancaster county and suggested archers will travel a long way to use a free outdoor public range.

The parking lot, said Burkholder, is in place, but the area needs to be surveyed to figure out exactly where the lanes will be.

Block targets will be set up against a backdrop, with wire to mark the edges of the lanes.

“We’re going to get together on the land and lay it out.” said Burkholder. “We have to get moving on it.”

He said volunteers will have to clear brush before the course opens.

After the Rod and Gun club’s April meeting, they will present information to the board of supervisors, and the work will begin.

By August, the hunters and archers hope to have made their dream a reality.

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