Staff Photos: Erin Evans. Panola Mountain State Park employee Ross Turnmire demonstrates his skills at the park's new archery range, entrance seen at right, that features 12 square targets on wooden stands.
Panola Mountain State Park can now boast a first in the state. The park recently completed work on an archery range -- the only one in the entire Georgia State Park System.
Located on the old Southerness Golf Course property that is now a part of Panola Park, the archery range is divided into two sections.
One section features 12 square targets on wooden stands, with shooting distances marked at 10- to 50-yard distances. The other part of the range offers 22 three-dimensional targets shaped like various Georgia wild game animals -- bears, deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, hogs, raccoons -- set off a trail in a wooded area.
The Panola Mountain State Park staff planned and designed the range with assistance from the Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Resources Division, which also supplied funds for the project through the sale of hunting licenses.
The archery range is situated on the eastern third of the golf course, surrounded on two sides by the South River. Panola Mountain State Park Manager Matt Owens said that the former golf course provided the perfect venue for such a project.
A flat area accommodates the wooden stand targets. The trail for the wild game target
section winds through the course and is circular, with targets located at offshoots from the circle. Each target is 3/4 mile from the trail. Behind each target is a berm, a feature left over from the golf course, which provides a safety component.
Owens said the archery range will not only serve the general public but also accommodate school groups. He also hopes to develop programming based on the archery course.
"One of the charges of the DNR is to get people outside hunting, fishing, biking, geocaching, hiking. This is a really good fit, having this range out here at Panola Mountain," Owens said.
Those interested in using the archery range must bring their own equipment and pay a fee. Fees are $10, or $5 for those under 5, to use the range for the day. An annual permit for an individual is $100, $50 for a child 12 and under, or $150 for a family.
A grand opening for the Panola Mountain State Park Archery Range is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 7 at the range, accessed through the Alexander Lake parking lot area of the park. Fees for the range will be waived that day.
For more information, call Panola Mountain State Park at 770-389-7801.