|One of the images of the 3D targets provided to the Commission by animal rights activists. Hard to tell what some are, right?|
Yesterday, the Long Beach Parks & Recreation Commission held their monthly meeting at El Dorado Park Senior Center to discuss many things, of which were the separate renewal of permits for three archery groups to use the park facilities; Long Beach Bowhunters, El Dorado Archers, and Santa Fe Archers. Knowing that the subject of 3D animal targets would be brought up, archers assembled from all over showed up in support, filling every seat and leaving standing room only.
Allow me to preface this article by informing archers, bowhunters, AND animal rights activists that I have been an archer and bowhunter for 30 years. I have also worked with the Seal Beach Animal Care Center in donating my time to aid in the care and welfare of the cats and dogs there. I own a cat, have owned many cats and dogs in the past and love animals in general. I also love to bow hunt.When the topic of the 3D animal target ban was brought up, you could hear everyone shift in their seats. Director of Parks and Rec, George Chapjian began by saying the 3D animal target ban has been in place for two years, ever since LB Animal Care Services fell under the umbrella of Parks & Rec. 'We don't want to send the message that it's OK to shoot these animals. That's why we don't allow target practice of animal figures or likenesses of animals.'
My thoughts: This ruling takes away a cost-free opportunity for El Dorado Park. I am one of the few who brings my own 3D animal targets. Most of the time it is target archers using the bale targets. Again, it costs the park nothing for us to bring in our own targets to shoot and they actually make money. We bring them in and take them out every time. We do not do damage to the bale targets because we shoot our own foam targets and this prolongs the life of the bale targets.
The park did not inform the public of this 3D animal target change! I asked if I could see the official letter they sent out to people. The park did not draft a letter to go out and they didn't post notices around the range stating that archers couldn't use the targets in question. When a rule is changed like this, shouldn’t the public who use the facility be made aware through the posting of signs, an email, and website update? From what I am now hearing, there is an option to ban all paper targets of animals as well. Is this the case? We go from being able to practice and enjoy shooting at different targets to only shooting Olympic style archery?
Richard Grossman, an avid archer, archery instructor, and member of both the Long Beach Bowhunters and El Dorado Archers, spoke up to share why the targets are used. He also picked apart the propaganda packet that was sent to the Commission by one of the animal activists. It contained photos of animals shot with arrows and gave the impression that it was done here. Richard spoke articulately, and based everything on facts, stating these images are found on Google and can be downloaded by anyone. It is obvious this woman is just trying to get an emotional (rather than rational) response from the Commission.
Val Rosas, an archer for 35 years at El Dorado park, also spoke his mind and shared facts regarding the use of targets. His response was passionate as he excitedly described the paper animal target he had and why we shoot at it.
One animal activist spoke up and began addressing the archers and not the commission. Was she taunting the group? I have no idea, but she was quickly informed to address the Commission. She went on to say that she 'appreciates what [we] do]', but fails to see why we feel the need to shoot at anything resembling an animal. It sounded like she was trying to say that archers are not animal lovers.
Lori Prichard, a state champion archer (in many categories) and single mom, debunked that. She spoke about 3D tournaments, like the one held in Redding, C.A., and how iIt is one of the largest around drawing more than 1200 participants each year. Archers from Long Beach do participate in this, including Lori. She continued to say she is also an animal lover with pets and even drove all the way out to New Mexico to rescue her current dog. Archers love animals, too!
We do not shoot at 3D animal targets that look like domestic CATS or DOGS. We shoot at 3D foam and paper pigs, deer, bear. These are animals we hunt for food and yes, we eat them and do not waste them.
Commission Vice-President Ben Goldberg spoke up and said, 'I am a hunter. I get it.' I think that surprised everyone in the room. It was great! He sees the need to practice and he proposed we shoot at something 'as large as say, a bear' to get the feel for it. While I see how is trying to mend the gap between the two sides, I don't see this helping. He as a hunter must know that shooting at a box the size of a bear looks nothing like the bear, thus it is not a proper way to practice to make an ethical shot on a bear.
Another animal activist (said she is 'not an animal rights activist, but an animal activist') also went on to say that the 3D targets are bad and that we can't hunt here in Long Beach so why allow hunting target practice. She said for us to go practice someplace else. I would share with she and the other activists that we can hunt within >30 miles of Long Beach and in order for us to make an ethical shot on a WILD GAME animal (not a pet), we must practice locally. The best part was when she said there is no need to hunt for your own food anymore. 'If you want meat, go to the store and buy it.' Yes, she really did say that.
As soon as she sat down, a fellow archer two seats away from her stood up. He is a 20 year vegetarian. He does NOT eat meat, but he made an excellent point validating hunting and the use of 3D animal targets. He said that the animal activist was wrong and that if you want to promote the 'suffering and inhumane treatment of animals' you can go buy your meat at a store! He continued by stating if you really want to eat meat 'hunt it yourself.' He is right on with that statement and the room erupted with applause.
A representative from the Santa Fe archers spoke and said that while they do not use 3D or paper animal targets, they fully support the people in attendance that do.
One activist stated that she was opposed to the animal targets because she didn't see the need for them. She also mentioned that in the movies you never saw Robin Hood shooting at an animal target. She continued to say that perhaps 'Hollywood has swayed [her]a bit'. I think the Hollywood mentality has blinded many and they react emotionally versus rationally.
A woman spoke at the very end stating that she is not an archer, nor is she a bowhunter. Her son, who was in attendance, is an archer at El Dorado Park and while he does not hunt and probably never will, not allowing the use of animal targets to be used is very one-sided.
There has been MUCH talk about the two cats that were shot by arrows earlier in 2014. LB Animal Services mentioned this and also went on to say that others in the past have also been shot with BBs and other weapons. Also, the cats were shot within a block of each other, which, to me, appears to have been done by one person. This is not what responsible archers do.
The motion to approve the permits was tabled as none of the archery clubs would agree to them the way they are written. The Commission referred it back to Parks & Rec and their lawyers to be discussed later. It was stated that the archers could continue to do what they are doing now until an agreement is reached, but that does not say we can use the 3d animal targets until further notice. What I understand it to say is we are still restricted and can shoot at the range, but cannot use 3D animal targets.
Many of us buy an annual park pass specifically to use the archery range. At $60 per pass or $7 per vehicle if you don't have a pass, it isn't cheap, but it is worth it to be able to practice out to long distances. By offering free classes on Saturdays, these archery groups generate more than $350 on a given Saturday as more than 50 cars enter the park with people looking to shoot.
I have asked numerous people at the range, while I was shooting my 3D animal targets and my paper animal targets if what I was doing was offensive in any way. 100% of the people asked said they are not offended and many have commended my friends and I for practicing on such an interesting target to improve our skills. Some have asked if they can shoot with us and I welcomed it!
This is far from over. More information will be shared as it comes available. Keep shooting, have fun, be respectful, and be safe.