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Governor, Dayton students initiate Big Arm Archery Range

by BERL TISKUS
Hagadone News Network | May 8, 2024 12:00 AM

Governor Greg Gianforte launched the first arrow, followed by a group of Dayton Elementary students last Wednesday during the official opening of the Big Arm Public Archery Range.

The governor and his wife, Susan Gianforte, were welcomed by Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chair Mike Dolson and Rich Janssen, head of the Tribes’ Natural Resources Division.

This new public range, located directly across U.S. 93 from the Big Arm State Park campground, features a covered shooting line and a trail system spread across approximately 35 acres overlooking Flathead Lake.

Gianforte emphasized his personal commitment to hunting and shooting sports. Both, he said “are deeply rooted in our Montana heritage, and we need to practice. That’s why this new archery range is so important.”

He added that the range reflects his administration’s commitment to expand “access to our public lands and recreational opportunities.” 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) developed the range to enhance public opportunities to learn and improve archery skills. The facility will offer training programs and educational events for children and adults, while providing a space for seasoned bowhunters and archers to practice. 

“Recreational shooters have contributed significantly to wildlife conservation in terms of our public range funding,” said FWP Director Dustin Temple. “This is a little bit of those funds coming back to recreational shooters and yet another facility for us to help develop safe and ethical bow hunters.”

Joining the governor for the celebration were members of the Dayton Elementary archery team.

“Archery allows students to commit to an activity, work on their focus, constantly grow, build their confidence, and enjoy the outdoors,” said Dayton Elementary Principal Brycen Ek. “Having this range so close to our community gives our students more opportunity to practice archery and do what they love.”

After the governor launched his arrow, the first group of student archers stepped up to try their luck. One whistle blast meant step to the shooting line, two whistles meant ready the bow, and three whistles liberated youngsters to let their arrows fly at the target. 

Amy Grout, recreation manager of the Flathead Lake District of the Montana State Parks system, spoke about walking the land and deciding how to build the range. The functional and attractive facility features a 30-by-15-foot covered shooting line and lockable storage for archery lessons and practice, and a vault restroom. The range trail offers up to 12 shooting stations, located to ensure safe backdrops.   

The archery range is open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. year-around, and is directly across from Big Arm State Park on Hwy. 93, with parking available on site. For more information, visit fwp.mt.gov/big-arm.fwp.mt.gov/big-arm.

    Governor Greg Gianforte shakes hands with a Dayton Elementary School student at the formal opening of the Big Arm Public Archery Range. (Berl Tiskus/Leader)