More Metro Detroit residents will have an opportunity to try the sport of archery this summer, thanks to a new grant program to help fund the development of archery programs in public parks.
Sterling Heights, Oakland County Parks, and the Southeast Livingston County Recreation Authority were among six communities across the state selected to receive archery equipment grants. The grants are funded by Easton Sports Development Foundation and are distributed in partnership with USA Archery and the Michigan Parks and Recreation Association (mParks).
Each park organization received $4,000 in April to purchase all of the equipment needed to start local programs and participated in an Academy to receive training. The program is part of a growing movement to build an archery sport and industry in Michigan, according to Bryan Farmer, deputy director of special services for the City of Farmington Hills.
Farmington Hills launched its archery program in 2010 and quickly saw success in the community, which led them to build a full range in 2015. A modest fee paid off the initial investment in a single season, and the program now generates adequate revenue to be self-sustaining. According to Farmer, the sport offers a new form of recreation, gets people outdoors and builds up the outdoor recreation economy.
"When we surveyed the people of Farmington Hills, a third of the people said they already bought the equipment because they liked archery so much. That's $766,000 spent on equipment," says Farmer. "Then 63 percent said they plan to purchase equipment in the future, which would equal $1.5 million."
The survey also uncovered participants' desire to use their new archery skills to try hunting as a sport, which has the potential to translate into even more of an economic boon for the state.
"Regarding the economic impact, if 15 percent more people got into hunting and fishing and those type of sports, then they're going to buy a lot more equipment. They're going to pay for gas to go up north to go hunt. They're going to buy licenses. That's $3.5 million that would be generated just from Farmington Hills if we had 797 new people come into hunting."
However, finding opportunities to enter and practice archery in Michigan can be a challenge. Farmer believes promoting the sport through local parks systems is one way to increase access.
"It's hard to find through conservations clubs," says Farmer. "People just don't know how to get involved with it. So that's where Parks and Recreation comes. We can hit all ages, all ethnicities, and that's what is happening in Farmington Hills. That's what's going on. A lot of people want it, and the participation is amazing."