Earlier this summer, Zach Elsass didn’t know Summit County had an archery range.
The 14-year-old Boy Scout from Breckenridge quickly fell in love with the sport and started going to the range near the Dillon cemetery three or four times a week to shoot.
“It’s very peaceful, quiet,” Elsass said. “It’s just fun to pull the bow back and get the arrows right where you want it to go.”
Now he is helping the archery community, mainly local hunters and kids in the county’s 4-H program, by installing large, permanent targets at the range for his Eagle Scout project.
Archers wanting to shoot before had to bring their own hay bales and targets, which Art Albin, Elsass’ scoutmaster with Troop 187, said normally stand about 2 or 3 feet off the ground.
“We have beautiful prairie grass out here. It’s a terrific setting,” said Albin, an avid bow hunter. But that tall grass means the targets are hard to see.
Albin said he and a handful of other archers designed a site plan for the range, and Elsass took on the first phase of the project with the help of others in the community.
Using supplies donated by Breckenridge Building Center and Lowe’s Home Improvement, Elsass constructed seven permanent frames that will hold 28-inch targets 4 to 5 feet off the ground.
They will have traditional bull’s-eyes on one side and a cartoon animal shape on the other, and they will be spaced out at 10-yard intervals starting at 20 yards from where the archers stand to 70 yards away for beginning to advanced shooters.
Elsass said he has already dug the holes for the stands and poured the concrete, and he will finish his project Saturday morning with the help of volunteers.
Once those targets are installed, the range will attract more users, said Aaron Byrne, director of the county waste facility where the gun shooting range is located.
Right now, the range attracts about 10 to 15 users a week, he said, and he envisions that growing to 20 to 25 users. Over the years, people have expressed interest in improving the range, but Elsass was the one who stepped forward, he said.
The project is a win-win for everyone, Byrne said. “It’s a good thing for the community to have a nice safe range to go to.”
Annie Lindsey, an archery instructor with the 4-H program, said she’s glad that county government was on board and happy to see a young person spearheading the effort.
“It says a lot about Zach that the community is willing to let him take the project on,” she said.