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Scott M

Where shall I practice in the Metro

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By Jean Hopfensperger

Star Tribune

Lewis Anderson looked out the window of his Roseville home this spring and spotted a couple of teenage boys shooting arrows into a bale of hay next door. Anderson's blood pressure soared: His wife and young son had just been playing nearby.

The boys weren't using "some toy archery kit," he said, but fast, compound bows. Anderson walked over and asked them to stop, explaining that shooting bows and arrows was illegal in back yards. But after checking city ordinances, he was shocked to learn it still was allowed.

Not anymore. Roseville recently became one of a growing number of suburbs to ban bows and arrows from back yards, offering a few exceptions for their use. A similar ordinance in Bloomington went into effect last week.

A classic childhood sport is being limited increasingly to school programs and archery ranges as suburbs become more densely populated and bows become more powerful.

"I think that with typical suburban lots, you don't have the length required for safety," said Lewis, whose complaint to Roseville City Hall sparked its ban. "As first-ring suburbs get more populated, they need to adopt the same rules as St. Paul and Minneapolis."

A typical bow and arrow used by hunters can travel 250 feet per second, according to a report prepared by Roseville city officials. Bows and arrows used by beginners are far less swift, but also can be less accurate. And a clear stretch of 60 to 90 feet is needed for safe target practice -- with no trees or other back-yard obstacles blocking the shoot.

'Public safety concerns evolve'

The bans also apply to parks and undeveloped, natural areas of cities. Sandra Johnson, associate city attorney in Bloomington, says that before the ban, residents could legally shoot bows and arrows in some areas near the Mississippi River flats that now are being used by joggers and walkers.

"Your public safety concerns evolve with your community," Johnson said.

Before adopting its ordinance, Roseville checked the law in several other suburbs. It found that Falcon Heights, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park, Burnsville and Richfield had banned bows and arrows, with a few exceptions.

Likewise other cities around the country have begun to limit the sport. Last month, Eau Claire, Wis., banned the use of bows and arrows in its own Archery Park. Last year, the Cincinnati suburb of Fort Mitchell also banned archery in back yards after a family pet was shot. The bans aren't exactly engulfing the nation, archery advocates say, but they are slowly surfacing in the halls of government.

Typically under the suburban bans in Minnesota, back-yard archery is prohibited, but schools and authorized archery ranges are allowed.

In some suburbs such as Minnetonka, the police chief was authorized to grant individuals permission to shoot from their yards, but typically after residents applied for a time-specified permit.

Although the bow and arrow falls under the category of "dangerous weapons" in most city ordinances, it has some quirks. It's against the law to "conceal" one, but as Johnson jokes, that would be pretty tough. Criminals are not robbing homes or committing deadly assaults with them. And in suburbs such as Roseville, police do not recall any arrests for unlawful possession, transportation or use of a bow and arrow.

"How many people get shot and killed in the United States by accident with a bow and arrow?" asked John Larsen, who runs the Bwana Archery range in Little Canada.

Larsen is among the suburban residents who urges city councils to "be realistic" when they change rules. He grew up shooting bow and arrows in his parents' back yard in Arden Hills. He still enjoys practicing with red and orange balloons as targets in a makeshift archery range that extends from his driveway to garage in Maplewood.

"Most people have been shooting in their back yards for 30, 40 years without a problem," he said. "I see things as just going overboard. We've had a business 30 years and never had to carry someone out on a stretcher."

Daniel Erickson, an officer for the Rapids Archery Club in Coon Rapids, says he understands both sides of the debate.

"I think it depends on the size of the city lots," Erickson said. "There are lots of places, such as Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center, or Fridley, where I can see [a ban] making sense there. Accidents happen. But if you live somewhere where most lots are an acre or more, I don't have a problem with it."

Roseville Mayor Craig Klausing also grappled with how far to go with the ban, acknowledging that bows and arrows haven't been a burning issue in the city. The original language of Roseville's ordinance out and out banned them, he said.

The City Council ultimately passed an ordinance last month that gives the police chief the authority to grant permits to individuals with particularly large lots or other special circumstances that would make archery safe.

A few weeks after that vote, a bow hunter contacted City Hall, asking if the city could create a site for hunters to shoot. Klausing said the city is now looking into the request.

Anderson continues to argue for a complete ban. He wonders whether neighbors will be consulted when the police chief considers issuing a permit, and whether police will actually enforce the new ordinance.

"I understand that there are [skilled] archers out there," he said. "But I still think the possibility of an arrow going off target is high."


What a bummer. Granted most people don't even have yards big enough to practice in, but for those that do, what does it matter and who does it harm? No precedent of any human accidents yet they take away someone's rights to shoot a bow in their own back yard.

I guess you can't do what you want on your own piece of dirt anymore. I can't wait to move out of the cities..... frown.gif

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I will keep shooting in my back yard, my 8 year old and 5 year old shoot all the time, I also let a few fly from my longbow. As long as the neighbor smoke outside I have a better chance of getting second hand smoke complications than I do of getting stuck by one of them. wink.gif

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There's always the 17yd hallway shot to fall back on... just make sure the center of your target hasn't been shot out! Did I mention I'm great at patching drywallcool.gif

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There's always the 17yd hallway shot to fall back on...

I have my past-the-water-heater, over-the-washer-and-dryer, and into-the-bale-of-cardboard-while-the-wife's-at-work shot. It's about 15 yards, but it's tricky. And the down-the-stairs-and-into-the-foam-block shot. Helps with treestand shooting.

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anyone else find themselves asking why this reporter failed to mention that it doesnt matter that it was legal in roseville because Ramsey County already banned the discharge of a bow at any place that was not a designated range? Either way, i will continue to shoot in my backyard in st. paul, the neighbors dont care, so why should it concern anyone else?

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Kind of sad that this happened. One bad apple will ruin it for the rest


Lino Lakes family wants charges filed in dog's death

by Mitch Anderson, Star Tribune

A Lino Lakes family is looking for authorities to press charges after someone shot and killed their family dog with a bow and arrow.

Around 9 p.m. March 21, Rhonda Neuberger let her dog Wally, a 3-year-old beagle mix, out to run around the yard. While finishing laundry inside the house, Neuberger heard a yelp from outside.

"What we saw when we all went out was Wally trying to walk toward our back steps and the arrow was sticking right through him," she said Friday.

Neuberger's husband, Edwin, removed the arrow, which punctured his lungs and broke several ribs, and applied pressure to the wound while the police were called.

In an attempt to save Wally's life, the family swaddled the dog in blankets and rushed him to a veterinarian -- but it was too late.

"We pulled up and he died as we opened the door," Rhonda Neuberger said.

"We've got a lot of family that cried along with us that night," she said. "You know, Wally was family."

A path of blood and dog prints led police to a house across the street, the police report stated, where officers eventually arrested a 21-year-old man. He was released three days later.

Any charges are pending the conclusion of a police investigation, Assistant Anoka County Attorney Bryan Lindberg said Friday.

According to the police report, when questioned about his whereabouts, the man first told police he had been sleeping in the house and hadn't shot anything, but later said he was hunting fox out of his back window.

When officers told him it was a dog that had been shot, the report stated, the man immediately replied, "Was it [the] Neubergers' dog?"

Police retrieved a hunting bow from the downstairs bedroom of the house and took the man into custody.

An unidentified man who answered the phone at the residence Friday declined to comment.

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