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After months of construction and visions of what the plot of land just west of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' Outdoor Campus West would be become, it was open to the public on Halloween.

The Archery Park is now up and running, with a multi-use building, a 14-station walking course and a practice shooting range.

The $1.5 million project, that was approved in May, was funded by a federal grant on hunting equipment which covered 75 percent of the project. GF&P license sales covered 12.5 percent of the project and the remaining 12.5 percent was covered by a grant through the South Dakota Parks and Wildlife Foundation.

Outdoor Campus West director Chad Tussing said the project also came in under budget, at approximately $1.3 Million.

He said since the course has opened, if the weather is nice, the walking course and practice range has gotten consistent use.

"As long as the weather is decent, we’ve had people out here all day long," he said. "On a nice weekend, we’ve had it packed. The timing wasn’t ideal with archery season already in, so I fully expect late summer, around August, for it to get a lot of use because people will be getting their bows ready for deer season."

The targets on the walking course range from 11 to 80 yards and on the practice range the targets are 20 to 80 yards apart.

The building has also been used for classes and field trips. The building can host archery, BB gun, game cleaning as well as fly casting classes. He said the archery classes can be for people just learning how to shoot or beginners who are looking to take their shooting to the next level.

Tussing said he wants the public to get a lot out of the classes, but he also hopes the ranges can be safer places than someone's backyard or garage to practice the sport.

"We provide a place where it’s safe to do the sport they love, so it’s a service that we’re happy to offer," he said. "With that walking course, to provide something different than just shooting at a flat target across your yard or in garage, to create some interesting types of shots and hunting styles. It’s fun, interesting, and it’s for the whole family."

Tussing said GF&P asks that anyone under 14-years-old be accompanied by an adult, but he said the entire family can go on the courses and range.

"You can bring your family out and shoot at these targets and walk this course," he said. "It’s a great thing that we’re happy to add to the community here."

Tussing also said he's proud of how compliant the park is with the American with Disabilities Act.

Of the 14 walking course ranges four are ADA compliant, and two of the practice range courses are also ADA compliant.

Getting up to the park was also designed with compliance in mind.

"That was something that was always a given. Even on the practice range there are two lanes that are ADA accessible but the other lanes are fairly accessible as well, with the material that we use so people with different abilities can still use them," he said. "We still want to create that experience that folks with different abilities could do, because there are people in wheelchairs or on crutches or what-have-you that hunt and shoot bows."

The ADA compliant targets on the walking course range from 11 to 30 yards away while there is a 20-yard target and a 60-yard target available on the practice range.

The park is free to use for the public and the opening and closing times will be 365 days a year, dawn until dusk.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.