The Illinois Chapter of BHA partnered with the US Army Corps of Engineers over the past year to development of a public 3-D archery trail at Lake Shelbyville in Central Illinois.
Lake Shelbyville is roughly 24,000 acres of public land and water that offers a major hunting and fishing opportunity in central Illinois. Although archery is the #1 means of hunting this land and in a region where whitetail hunting is king, there is not a facility where hunters can practice in the immediate area.
In the summer of 2022, The Illinois Chapter of BHA approached USACE about a dream of having a 3-D archery trail not only open to the public but funded and built by public land owners. The discussions continued, and the project was greenlit, and this project received a $25,000 grant which will assist in funding needed upgrades to a parking area, ADA needs, target platforms, and more. Over the spring of 2023, chapter leaders, members, and volunteers gave their time to clear trails, clean up trash, and prepare the park so users could start using it in the fall of 2023.
Drew Kazenski, Illinois BHA Chapter Board Chair, was able to share ILBHA’s partnership with the Army Corps at Lake Shelbyville with USACE representatives from across the nation in July 2023. The group traveled to Illinois to learn about what partnerships can lead to and the benefits of joining efforts with organizations like BHA. The highlight was sharing the development of the Lake Shelbyville Archery Park as the first BHA-affiliated archery park in the nation and 1 of 7 USACE projects in the nation to receive a partnership grant.
The Illinois BHA Chapter plans to host events that will include continued trail building and cleaning, educational activities, and support functions to make the Lake Shelbyville 3-D Archery Park more than just targets in the woods. They also built partnerships with high schools in the county who are looking to be a part of this project, so they can offer educational outings and field days, and it will be used for S3DA High School Archery competitions.
The Lake Shelbyville Archery Park will be one of the largest in Illinois and the only one with the BHA name on it in the country. It will also serve to host state and national archery events events, ensuring the possibility of many visitors. As the public enters they will be introduced to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers with more than just a sign.
The entire trail will be an experience where visitors will learn about conservation, wildlife, and the importance of public lands. Built by volunteers, sponsors, and a little sweat, Lake Shelbyville Archery Park will be free to public. Those who visit will have the opportunity to see firsthand what Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is all about and how the future of public lands is decided today.
The Illinois Chapter of BHA will host Archery Park Tours and a Conservation Shoot on September 8th and 9th. Camping will be kept open at Lake Shelbyville to accommodate those that attend.