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TPWD Awards Grant for Houston Archery Park
Waco, Valley shooting ranges to see improvements
SAN ANTONIO — As part of an overall “Houston Archery Strategy” tying archery programs with access to facilities, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved a $120,000 grant for an archery park north of Houston.
The TPW Commission also approved two other target range grants during its Aug. 26 public meeting in San Antonio, including: $90,000 to further develop trap, skeet, sporting clay and classroom facilities at a range complex within the Waco city limits, and a $30,000 start-up project grant to improve existing range facilities in Pharr.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Federal Assistance, administers a target-range grant program to provide funding for qualifying applicants from both the private and public sectors that open their shooting facilities to the public and offer hunter education.
Applicants must provide 25 percent of the total project cost, and the federal grant funds, made available through Texas’ "hunter safety apportionment," fulfill the remaining 75 percent. The grants allow recipients to enhance their existing ranges or to build new facilities, including ranges, storage units, and accessible restrooms, roads, parking areas and hunter education classrooms.
The Lake Houston Wilderness Park archery facility will enable the public, especially youngsters and families, to practice and enjoy one of the more popular shooting sports and outdoor recreation activities, especially near urban centers.
An agreement with the Houston Parks and Recreation Department to begin the project is pending cultural, biological and range reviews. Once developed, the facility also will be able to host schools, youth groups, parks and recreation centers, competitive events and conservation organizations as part of their suite of current school-based and summer programs at the park.
“Archery is gaining resurgence because of efforts like the National Archery in Schools Program, and the need for accessible facilities must keep pace,” according to Steve Hall, education director, TPWD. “In Houston, many schools are getting involved in the program, but youngsters really don’t have the places to practice their new, lifelong skills or to just go out and have fun shooting bows and arrows with their families in public settings.”
Houston Parks and Recreation hopes to make archery a mainstream outdoor recreation activity alongside many of its other educational and outdoor venues. They have gained support not only from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, but also from the archery industry through the Archery Trade Association and from program sponsors including Archery in Schools, National Archery Association, National Field Archery Association, Junior Olympic Archery Development and others.
In addition to the Houston archery grant, the commission also awarded the Waco Skeet and Trap Club $90,000 to further develop trap, skeet, sporting clay and classroom facilities at its range complex. The shotgun facility hosts many local, state and national tournaments and is considered one of the two premiere facilities for Texas State Skeet Championships.
The club received a grant from the department in the early nineties to develop trap and skeet facilities, and now it would like to expand its offerings since it has not been able to keep up with the demand in one of the larger metropolitan areas in Texas. The club hosts 4-H Shooting Sports competitions and hunter education courses, and expanded classroom facilities will enhance offerings to youth groups and enable the club to host even more courses.
The commission also awarded the Pharr Rifle and Pistol Club a $30,000 start-up project grant to improve their existing range by improving bullet catchers, baffles and other range safety features.
The Rio Grande Valley, with its constant move towards urbanization, has the need to expand accessibility to safe, affordable shooting centers, especially for citizens in cities such as McAllen, Mission, Brownsville and Harlingen.
The Valley does have several other ranges, but the number of shooting sports facilities has not kept up with habitat encroachment and the demands of the ever-growing population in the region. Improvement of range safety is paramount at the Pharr site, but the club also hopes to attract more youth shooting sports programs as a result of the grant.
The club also would like to build a classroom to improve its hunter education and youth shooting sports programs, but that will have to be accomplished in future project phases.
Grants are available to qualifying applicants from both private and governmental sectors that provide public use and hunter education at their facilities. For more information on Target Range grants, contact Steve Hall at TPWD at (512) 389-4568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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