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Willmar, Minn., City Council continues discussion on bow and arrow regs

WILLMAR — Discussion continues on an amendment to the dangerous weapons ordinance that would regulate bow and arrow use within Willmar city limits.

After conducting a public hearing on the amendment Aug. 19, the City Council voted to refer the amendment back to the Public Works/Safety Committee for further consideration. Council members had expressed concerns for the safety of neighbors living next to archers who practice in their backyards and opposition to a large required backstop.

After about half an hour of discussion Tuesday evening with Police Chief David Wyffels, the committee directed city staff to draft an ordinance similar to Hutchinson’s bow-and-arrow regulations.

Besides Hutchinson, Wyffels also researched bow and arrow regulations for Delano, Marshall, North Mankato and St. Cloud. Wyffels said a simply worded ordinance would be easier to enforce.

Committee members favored Hutchinson’s ordinance. It reads: “It is unlawful for any person to shoot a bow and arrow except in the physical education program in a school supervised by a member of its faculty; a community-wide supervised class or event specifically authorized by the chief of police; or a bow and arrow range authorized by the Council.’’

Current ordinance does not prohibit shooting arrows within the city limits. However, Wyffels said citizens periodically ask the Police Department if shooting bow and arrow is legal, and they’re advised there is no regulation against it.

The amendment proposal came about after the committee on May 14 directed Wyffels to review current city ordinance relating to dangerous weapons and the use of a bow and arrow in city limits. Wyffels said cities have a wide range of regulations and some have no regulations.

During that discussion, Wyffels had proposed the time limit permitted for an individual to shoot pests on private property be lengthened from 60 to 180 days. Under the 60-day limit, Wyffels, said citizens experiencing garden pests would have to apply for three separate permits during the growing season. The 180-day limit would allow one permit and saves staff and residents from processing two more permits.

Wyffels said if the time period were increased, and if new bow and arrow regulation is desired, it would be more efficient to enact both changes at the same time instead of revisiting the ordinance at a later date.

The amendment that was heard Aug. 19 would require use of a backstop measuring at least 8 feet in height and 16 feet in width and would prohibit discharge of barbed and bladed arrow tips except for taking fish or game.

Committee member Steve Ahmann said he appreciates archers but said his concern is for safety of neighbors and he asked if archers should possibly request permission from neighbors to shoot. He said the site of the former wastewater treatment plant would make an excellent archery range.

Wyffels said the council can decide what it wants. But he said a longer ordinance is more difficult to follow and said he favored a short and simple ordinance.

Committee member Bruce DeBlieck said the council can either allow archery at an approved range or not at all. It was his opinion that archery be allowed at an approved range, although the council would need to define what is an approved range.

Ahmann suggested the committee further discuss the issue with the Little Crow Archers, the local archery club.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150