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Proposed ordinance revision could restrict bow and arrow use in Willmar, Minn., city limits

WILLMAR - Bows and arrows would be classified as dangerous weapons under a proposed revision of the city's weapons ordinance.

Details are still being worked out. At a minimum, however, the revision would place some restrictions on the use of bows and arrows within the city limits.

There currently are no restrictions, said Willmar Police Chief Dave Wyffels, who proposed the tighter regulation recently to city officials.

"I feel that there are some public safety issues," he said.

The Willmar City Council authorized city staff Monday to draft the revision, which will go to the council's Public Safety Committee for review.

The vast majority of bow-and-arrow hunters are cautious, Wyffels said. But he said he's also heard "horror stories" of people being accidentally shot when an arrow goes astray or misses a target.

Wyffels said he has reached out to the local archery community for input on how to write an ordinance that balances safety with common sense. He also posted on the Willmar Police Department's Facebook page, asking for comments.

"So far I've got 2,400 people that have seen my request," he said.

One possible compromise might be to allow the unrestricted use of bows and arrows inside large buildings or on open waterways, where there's little danger to the general public, Wyffels suggested. Other possible restrictions might consist of limiting the draw weight of the bow or restricting users to blunt-tipped arrows.

In another revision also being proposed for the city's dangerous weapons ordinance, weapons permits would be extended from 60 days to 180 days.

The permits primarily are sought by individuals who want to be allowed to shoot rodents, skunks, rabbits and other pests within the city limits. By extending the length of time that a permit is valid, applicants wouldn't have to reapply every two months and the city could reduce some of its paperwork, Wyffels said.

The City Council didn't set a timetable at their meeting Monday for drafts of both ordinance revisions to be completed. The revisions will eventually come back to the council, however, for discussion and a public hearing before final adoption.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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