Charlie Elliott opens new archery range; Panola Mountain hosts Sept. archery tournament

COVINGTON — The folks at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield are quite accustomed to hitting the bullseye when it comes to recreation opportunities, and beginning Friday they’ll be offering their guests an opportunity to also hit the bullseye at their new Archery Range.

The public is invited to attend the dedication ceremony which will take place at the range at 10 a.m. Featured speakers will be Rep. Susan Holmes, R-Monticello, of House District 125 and Dan Forster, Georgia Department of Natural Resources division director.

The range will feature a static range with non-moveable targets as well as a 3D walking trail which will have small animal targets in realistic woodland and grassland scenes.

According to Jennifer Pittman, DNR Wildlife Resources shooting sports director, archery is becoming increasingly popular.

“Even as far back as the Summer Olympics, archery was one of the most popular events. There have also been several archery movies that have sparked an interest,” she said, adding that more and more archery is offered through public schools’ physical education programs and clubs such as 4H. “There are a lot of shooting sports programs out there and there is much more awareness of it.”

Pittman said the plus to archery is that anybody can participate.

“All it takes is dedicated concentration. You don’t have to be the biggest, the toughest or the strongest athlete. All you have to do is practice, practice, practice and you will get better,” she said. “Boys and girls can play on the same playing field. Families can do it. Everyone can participate and will be shooting at the same target at the same time.”

Also, deer hunters can get some practice in at the range in time for bow season which begins the second Saturday in September.

“They can come to the range and practice to make sure they are proficient with their bow equipment,” Pittman said.

CEWC will offer several programs through the year and into next summer for those who are interested in archery. To find out more about the programs go to www.georgiawilidlife.com and click education, regional education centers, and look at the Charlie Elliot calendar of events.

Participants should bring their own equipment to the range.

“This range will be opened to the general public, but they have to follow normal range rules and guidelines,” Pittman pointed out. “They must have either a door pass or a Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass Wildlife Management license to shoot. Those 17 and under have to be with a licensed adult at any of our shooting or archery ranges.”

She said required passes or licensing is available at the Charlie Elliott Visitor’s Center and licensing dealers including Walmart, Bass Pro and others.

To get to CEWC, take I-20 to Exit 98. Travel south on Ga. Highway 11, go through Mansfield and continue 3 miles south to the entrance at Marben Farms Road on the left. Then follow signs to the Archery Range.

For more information, call 770-388-0045 for any shooting sports questions or call the CEWC at 770-784-3059.

Also, Panola Mountain State Park is hosting its first Annual Archery Tournament on Sept. 21 which will feature competition shooting on both static and 3D ranges. There will be a separate shooting section for youngsters 9-14. Kids will be able to use provided equipment on this range and will have the help of an instructor if needed.

The tournament is for anyone ages 9 and up who wishes to compete at different experience levels. Registration is now open and the packet for this tournament can be accessed at http://gastateparks.org/Files/GeorgiaParks/2013/RegistrationFormw2013.pdf or at the Panola Mountain Nature Center. Early registration is available through Aug. 24 at $25 for one competition and $35 for both. Regular registration will continue through Sept. 9 at $30 for one competition and $40 for both. All Kids Fun Shoot participants will pay $15. Walk-in registration will be available based on available spots after Sept. 9, but there will be no guarantee of correct size T-shirt. Extra T-shirts will be sold the day of the tournament on a first come, first served basis.

Blaze Sports will be providing disability access for any participants needing this service.

Panola Mountain Park is located 18 miles southeast of Atlanta on Ga. Highway 155 via I-20 exit 68. Admission is $5 parking per vehicle. For more information, visit www.gastateparks.org/panolamountain or call 770-389-7801.