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Ty Thurston, left, of Nebraska Game and Parks, helps Nathan draw his bow as his father, Matt Pearson, looks on. The Archery range and Card Shoot were popular attractions during Chadron State Park's 97th anniversary celebration i 2018.

Heading up the southern road of Chadron State Park you get your first glimpse of the archery range to your right, just after passing the spotted tail and soapweed shelters. Settling into the parking lot you won’t have gotten a good look at the range, but take the short walk toward the first shooting station and you’ll begin to get an idea of just how impressive, and expansive, the range is.

The range first began to see use in 2017. The first station you approach sits at the top of the range and is intended as a sight-in station with variable distance targets intended to offer multiple sight-in options between 10 and 60 yards.

Each of the two targets is affixed to a set of wheels and can be moved along a track simply by pulling or pushing the target cart. Although not yet featured, according to Gregg Galbraith, Superintendent of Chadron State Park, the park intends to add distance markers to the station in the future to simplify the sight-in process.

In total, there are seven other stations thoughtfully arranged downslope from the first station in a manner that manages to make each station group feel like it has some privacy without requiring too long of walk to reach the furthest set of stations.

Each shooting station typically includes a set of Pacific Bow Butts targets featuring a 4x4 face. One station features only one target, and another toward the eastern-most portion of the range has three. In addition to the targets, each station features a shooting block and a hanger capable of holding multiple bows.

The layout of each station takes advantage of the terrain to provide a more natural shooting environment. Each target typically varies in distance and also elevation. Some stations require downhill shots to the targets and others require uphill shots. None but the sight-in station offers a truly level shooting plane.

The range is technically open year-round, although due to its downhill nature be prepared to have more difficulty traversing the range if there’s snowfall. Hours of operation follow general park hours so shooting should generally stop after sunset.

The range is restricted to field tips only and Galbraith stresses the need to be aware of your surroundings while shooting because of wildlife and hikers that might be in the area.

No matter what your desired game, the range offers an incredible place to hone your skills, or even introduce yourself or others to the sport. After entering the park, stick to the left-most roads around the south end of the park.

You’ll know you’re getting close as you pass the spotted tail and soapweed shelters. Shortly after the shelters, there’s a right hand turn into the range parking lot.

Remember that you’ll need to have a valid Nebraska Park Entry permit for each vehicle entering the park. Visit the office at the park, any other Nebraska Game and Parks office, or go online to to purchase a permit.

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