'Hunger Games' effect? St. Paul to consider outdoor archery range

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It could be the influence of the "Hunger Games" books and movies, which feature a young heroine who's a bow-and-arrow expert. Or there could be other pop culture references that are contributing to the rising interest in archery.

But for whatever reason, the city of St. Paul is taking notice and will soon consider creating its first outdoor archery range in decades.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports the City Council will vote on a resolution Wednesday which would start the process for an outdoor archery range to be developed at Pig's Eye Park, near the intersection of Hwy. 61 and Warner Road, southeast of downtown.

If the council votes in favor, the city's parks department would apply for a grant of up to $10,000 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help pay for the project. The city would then pitch in another $5,000.

City Council president Kathy Lantry is sponsoring the resolution; she said a growing number of residents have been asking where they can practice archery. At the moment, there aren't many places in the Twin Cities metro area, and there are none at all in St. Paul, Lantry said.

Suburbs including Maplewood, Little Canada, Coon Rapids, Stillwater, Maple Grove and Lauderdale have archery clubs or ranges – some of them private and some of them indoors. Minneapolis also has three archery ranges, the Star Tribune reports.

And in general, they're seeing more interest, they say.

"There are more women involved now than in the past, and also children," Nolita Micheau of Archery Specialists in Maple Grove told the Pioneer Press.

USA Archery, the national governing body for the Olympic sport of archery, confirms that trend, and credits the popularity of the "Hunger Games" and "The Avengers" movies with bringing more women and children into the sport.

The organization's youth memberships have increased 121 percent in the past year, while memberships purchased by women are up 105 percent over the same time.

Individual memberships in USA Archery have increased 84 percent in the past year, to more than 15,800 members, according to the organization's website.

"People are connecting with archery more than ever before, and we see that reflected in our membership numbers and event participation," said Denise Parker, USA Archery CEO and Olympic bronze medalist.

If the City Council approves, St. Paul city officials hope to have the archery range in place by June 30, 2015.

The Minnesota State Archery Association has a list of ranges, clubs and pro shops around the state online at mnarchery.org.

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