Taking aim

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Strawtown Koteewi Park sets sights on becoming county’s newest destination, starting with archery ranges

Described as the “best-kept secret in Hamilton County,” Hamilton County Parks Director Al Patterson is eager to let the cat out of the bag with several additions being made at Strawtown Koteewi Park in Noblesville.

“Ten to 15 years from now this place will look totally different,” he said. “We’re standing at the edge of the cliff with an amazing plan in place. This is the beginning of something so special.”

The start of changes at the 750 acres of undeveloped land is Koteewi Trace, an outdoor interpretive exhibit exploring the site’s history, and Koteewi Range, 22735 Essig Ave., Noblesville.

“Archery is truly fantastic,” Patterson said.

Koteewi Range will offer 96 shooting stations with 32 at the 35-yard practice range and 64 stations on two 90-meter variable distance ranges. Patterson said the ranges have been built to Olympic specifications and hopes to one day hold trials or competition in Noblesville.

“There’s nothing like it in all of the Midwest really, certainly not in Indiana,” he said.

Koteewi also offers an archery trail in the woods with 3D targets of animals.

“(Targets) are of variable distance so archers start learning how to judge that distance,” said Patterson. “A very fast growing segment of archery is 3D.”

Using sports marketing and tourism, Patterson said plans are to bring tournaments to Koteewi range.

“Every weekend we’ll have a tournament shooting of some sort,” he said. “We’ll also have 4-H shooting sports, Scouts programming and hunter education classes here.”

As a result of the number of shooting station, Patterson said the practice range will be available during tournaments so those interested will not be turned away.

Patterson said his goal is to introduce archery to the local schools.

“The DNR has a program, archery in the schools, that students receive a week worth of instruction as part of the physical education program and after school come in and shoot,” he said. “It had 1,600 kids starting and moved to Indy from Muncie. There is no archery in the schools programs in Hamilton County.”

Koteewi Range is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends and 4:30 p.m. to dusk Monday through Friday. The pro shop is operated by Girt’s Archery. While it is currently open, a grand opening of the range will be held in the spring.

The future

The possibilities of recreation opportunities at Strawtown Koteewi are endless and plans include several amenities that are not available at other county parks including a potential lodge, conference center and restaurant.

“We really went nuts on the master plan,” Patterson said. “We still have a lot of things we want to get done out there.”

Patterson said Koteewi Lake, a 19-acre recreational pond, is under construction. The lake will be 30 feet deep and have paddle and row boats available.

“It’s a new, quiet place for people to go rent a boat and go fishing,” he said. “We hope to have it done within a year.”

Additional features planned include:

● Koteewi Run – Using a portion of the land removed to construct the lake, Patterson said a sledding hill is being built. Through a partnership with Noblesville’s Beaver Materials, the hill is being built at no cost to the county. Patterson said the area will have a warming facility and offer sledding and tubing.

● Koteewi Stable will provide 15 stalls for horses. Patterson said the equestrian facility will offer guests the opportunity to rent horses and ride the park’s trails. Like other areas of Strawtown Koteewi, this will be a private-public partnership where an outside company will manage the facility and provide care to the horses.

● Morris Farm – Patterson said the interpretive farm of more than 150 years will be built on land adjacent to Strawtown Koteewi acquired this summer. “We’ll set aside a small farm to do historical farming out there with horses. It will be a standalone historical farming homestead parcel,” he said.

“It’s a potential state park location, on a smaller scale in amenities/opportunities that will mimic a state park. It’s a destination-oriented park – a step between city and state parks but within a 30-minute drive of your home.”

A growing sport

USA Archery, which is the national governing body for the Olympic sport of archery, has been tracking event participation and membership since four months prior to the release of the “Hunger Games” film to the premiere of the sequel, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” During that time the organization said one thing is clear: archery’s popularity is surging and the sport is showing sustained continued growth.

The organization’s individual membership saw a giant increase from 4,185 individual memberships as of November 2011 to 8,589 as of November 2013 – a 105 percent rise. That growth has remained consistent between 2012 and 2013 as individual membership has increased 54 percent.

In addition to increased demand for lessons nationwide, USA Archery said people are participating in tournaments in larger numbers than ever before. According to their data, USA Archery’s National Indoor and JOAD National Indoor Championships had a 31 percent increase in overall participation from 2012 to 2013, and a 34 percent jump in youth registrations alone.

The organization’s National Target Championships and Easton JOAD Nationals – a combined outdoor national championships event traditionally held in July – also had a 31 percent participation boost from 2012 to 2013. The organization said other national events have seen similar gains.

Parker

Parker

“We definitely attribute much of this growth to ‘The Hunger Games’ films, along with movies like ‘Brave’ and ‘The Avengers,’” stated USA Archery CEO Denise Parker, a three-time Olympian and bronze medalist. “Given that archery was also the most-watched sport during NBC’s first week of Olympic Games coverage, we’re hopeful that people who see and try the sport will find out what archery fans already know: it’s an awesome sport, fun and challenging, and one that you can enjoy year-round and for the rest of your life.”

For more information on archery, visit usarchery.org.

Know more

Koteewi is the Miami Native American word for “prairie.” The park is 750 acres of previously undeveloped land. Archaeological evidence has shown that this property was originally inhabited by American Indians as early as 10,500 years ago. The material culture found on this site also tells the story of American Indians, possibly the Delaware or Miami people, living and trading on the land when European settlers arrived in 1818.

In 1999, Patterson said the county was approached by Noblesville attorney Jack Hittle who represented Dan Taylor. Taylor lived on the land for decades and upon his death directed his estate to offer the area at a discounted rate to the county. Nestled along the White River, Strawtoen Koteewi is Hamilton County’s largest park and offers visitors a natural history center, canoe launch, fishing and eight miles of maintained trails.


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