Starting next month, archery will be illegal in St. Paul aside from where it’s offered as a class on public property or at authorized ranges — of which there are none in the city now.
But parks officials are working on plans to build a six-target outdoor range at Pig’s Eye Park in hopes of opening it sometime this year.
The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the new regulations, which add bows, arrows and crossbows to the city’s list of weapons and effectively forbid their use in yards throughout the city.
The ordinance was introduced a full year ago.
But spirited opposition from back yard archery advocates, along with the city’s lack of a designated place to shoot arrows, prompted the council to put the issue on the back burner until now.
Sentiment to restrict archery in the city remains strong, however. Council Member Russ Stark sponsored the measure after hearing concerns about back yard archers.
Kimberly Koempel, a Merriam Park resident, wrote the City Council that she takes her son to Stillwater for archery lessons but doesn’t want it near her home: “I see examples all the time of arrows not going where they are supposed to go.”
“As you know, for many months this has been before us,” Stark said before the vote, “and we reviewed it thoroughly with [Department of Safety and Inspections officials], and they don’t think there’s a way to make it safe to do this in back yards.”
The ordinance doesn’t ban city-sanctioned bow hunts, such as those to reduce the deer population. Nor does it address the issue of basement ranges, but Stark said the intent is to regulate outdoor archery.
While Minneapolis doesn’t directly address the use of bows and arrows, the city’s definition of weapon might be construed to prohibit archery except when as part of an organized activity or at a range.
Minneapolis makes archery available in three parks, unlike St. Paul. But parks officials have drafted plans for a new archery range at Pig’s Eye Park that would be accessible for people with disabilities.
The range would be built with the help of a $10,000 state grant, $5,000 in city funds and in-kind contributions to grade the range area. Officials also are looking for state funds and outside grants to buy the necessary equipment.
Archery has soared in popularity in recent years, due largely to films and TV shows such as “The Hunger Games” and “Game of Thrones.” NBC reported in 2012 that archery was its most-watched cable TV event during the Summer Olympics.
Former University of Minnesota student journalist Callie Sacarelos contributed to this story.