Bull elk, dinosaurs and epic sunsets are just a few of the attractions you’ll find at Barr Lake State Park’s archery range. Barr Lake is the latest state park to offer archery to its visitors as part of an ongoing effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to develop more public shooting ranges across the state.
“We are very excited to offer archery at Barr Lake,” said Park Manager Michelle Seubert. “Our park staff and volunteers have worked really hard over the past couple years to design and build our range. It is a great addition to our park’s already diverse offering of recreational activities, and one that has been extremely well-received among our visitors.”
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Barr’s range for the first time. Armed with my compound bow and camera, I enjoyed a fun evening of shooting. After a few subpar shots with my bow, however, I realized that my archery skills were a little rusty after an extensive layoff due to a nagging shoulder injury (good thing I didn’t draw an archery tag this year). Thankfully, my aim was a bit better with my camera, so I decided to spend the rest of the evening shooting photos of other archers, many of whom were busting bullseyes and flinging tight arrow groupings with relative ease.
Along with a clean, well-organized shooting facility, I found a friendly mix of competitive shooters, bowhunters and families using the range. Seubert says that this community atmosphere is exactly what they envisioned when they developed Barr’s range. “Our archery range really has something for every type of shooter,” said Seubert. “Archery is a fun activity whether you bowhunt, shoot competitively or simply want to spend a few hours shooting with family or friends. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy the outdoors, so we wanted everyone to feel comfortable shooting here.”
Located just 20 minutes northeast of Denver, Barr Lake offers 12 shooting lanes with heavy-duty targets. The targets vary from 10 to 100 yards, giving novice and advance shooters alike the opportunity to develop their skills. Only field or target-tips are permitted, but hunters who are prepping for the big-game seasons may shoot broadheads in designated lanes. Shooters may also provide their own targets on broadhead and “open” lanes.
In May, Barr expanded and improved its archery range by opening a 3-D target course. Consisting of high-quality, Rhinehart animal targets, the 3-D course features 10 shooting stations scattered along a rolling, grassy trail. Lifelike bear, turkey, deer and wild hogs roam here, providing scenarios and shooting angles similar to what bowhunters might experience on a genuine archery hunt. The 3-D course’s main attraction, however, is a mammoth, 6×6 bull-elk target. Standing at nearly 6-feet tall, this whopping wapiti is as close as you’ll get to a real elk hunt without buying a license or hiking miles into Colorado’s backcountry. And, if those aren’t enough reasons to make you want to grab your bow, there’s also a Stegosaurus on site, providing the perfect way to de-stress for those who just watched “Jurassic World” this summer. As an added perk, the hilly 3-D course provides a great vantage point to take in Barr Lake’s famous sunsets—some of the most scenic and beautiful in the entire state.
“We worked closely with Cabelas and CPW’s Hunter Outreach program in setting up the 3-D range,” said Seubert. “It was a big cooperative effort. And although the 3-D range has only been open for a few months, it has been a big hit with our visitors. As we move forward, we hope to add even more targets and continue to make improvements.”
To help beginners discover their inner Robin Hood or Katniss Everdeen, Barr offers beginning archery classes twice a month. The courses are free and are taught by Barr Lake’s park rangers. More good news is that there are no additional fees to use the archery range (simply purchase an annual or day state-parks pass and you are good to go). Along with your bow and arrows, be sure to pack some sunscreen and bug spray. There’s also a covered picnic area where you can enjoy lunch or simply rest in the shade after a long day of shooting.
For further information and hours of operation, see Barr Lake’s webpage or contact the nature center at (303)659-6005.
Note: Barr Lake State Park would like to thank Cabelas for donating archery equipment and targets, and express gratitude to all staff and volunteers who made this project possible.
See additional photos of Barr Lake’s archery range in the slide show below:
Story and photos by Jerry Neal. Neal is the editor for Colorado Outdoors Online and is an information specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.