Service Introduces College Clubs to Archery at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

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In the fall of 2022, staff from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program invited nearby college clubs to participate in a free archery program hosted at the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s seven-target range offered a great location for participating college students to learn archery techniques and gave the students an opportunity to learn about the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).

Throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System, various refuge locations offer public access to archery ranges and free archery lessons and clinics. The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is one such location, and it offers nearby communities a variety of outdoor activities including hiking and wildlife watching. However, not many visitors know that the refuge also hosts an archery range at the Fort River Division location in Hadley, Massachusetts. “The archery range has not been highly publicized,” said Elena Campbell, American Conservation Experience Fellow with the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR). “Part of this is due to the lack of available range officials at the refuge, while range officials are helpful for building awareness and providing support for beginners, it is important to note that a range official is not required for people to use the facility.” The range is available to members of the community by contacting refuge staff to schedule a range time.

To build the needed awareness of the range and strengthen relationships with the community, Campbell reached out to archery, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation clubs at nearby colleges including University of Massachusetts Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, and Amherst College. Four college clubs accepted the invite and scheduled events at the refuge. WSFR staff were on hand during the clinics as certified range officials, and they provided the equipment needed to learn archery in a safe and welcoming space. A total of 34 students joined the clinics and for many it was their first time participating in archery and their first time to the refuge.

Archery is an important pastime and a way to connect with nature. For over four decades, American archery manufacturers have also shared a partnership with state and federal biologists through the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act — a partnership that uses manufacturer paid taxes to fund conservation and outdoor access across America. “More than 200 archery ranges have been designed, constructed, renovated or opened to the public fully supported by excise tax funding,” added Campbell. “By advancing archery awareness we can also educate participants about the important conservation and access efforts supported by outdoor enthusiast and manufacturers.” Advancing outdoor education and access were driving forces for the creation of the refuge range.

“Conte Refuge comprises nearly 40,000 acres with 23 different Divisions and Units located in 4 different states. Refuge lands boast a variety of habitats, including valuable nesting habitats, rivers and streams, and internationally significant marsh areas,” said Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge Visitor Service Manager Jennifer Lapis. “From hiking and kayaking to bird watching, fishing and hunting and the archery range, the refuge lends itself to anyone interested in spending time outdoors.”

Future efforts to host archery events and clinics at the refuge can provide further opportunities for more outdoor sports engagement in the Pioneer Valley region. Along with the archery range, the refuge also owns a portable archery target and a blow-up archery range which have been used during summer youth programs. “Providing a connection to nature and responsible recreation is a pilar of what the WSFR Program is all about,” added Campbell. “I am excited to see what ways the refuge continues to engage their community and get people outdoors.”

To learn more about the refuge, the archery range and how to participate in a program, contact Visitor Service Manager Jennifer Lapis at

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Recreational Activities