Keegan Woodburn is likely finished with his youth archery group, with the Eldersburg resident aging out and about to graduate from his homeschool experience before heading off to college.
The coronavirus pandemic put a stop to any potential shooting opportunities for Woodburn, 16, and his Fletchling Archery Team, which is made up of Carroll County Recreation & Parks archery students without a team, along with homeschooled students and North Carroll Community School students. Local tournaments and events dealing with the National Archery in the Schools Program have been canceled as a result, but Woodburn didn’t want to leave his archery life behind for good.
Less than 18 months ago, Woodburn came up with an idea that could serve more than one purpose ― he wanted to complete his Eagle Scout project by giving Carroll County its first outdoor archery range.
The Carroll County Sports Complex in Westminster is now home to the Fletchling Archery Range, and Woodburn said he checked with his Gamber-based Boy Scout troop before starting the endeavor to make sure it was worthy of an Eagle Scout.
“I really enjoy archery, so I thought, well hey, this is an opportunity,” said Woodburn said. “The community can use it. And it’s something that the team could really use at the time. That’s kind of where it formed.”
The range consists of a 12-person bench, six covered targets, two bow stands, and marking for 10- and 15-meter shooting lines. A sign is also posted to give archers the proper rules and regulations for using the range, with Woodburn’s name and Eagle Scout honor recognized as well.
Woodburn, who has been practicing archery and competing for most of the past decade, said he got help from a fellow scout member who is into carpentry. Hardware and supplies were provided at a discount from John S. Wilson Lumber Company out of West Friendship, Woodburn said.
The range started taking shape last year, much to the delight of Woodburn and Tina Shupp, his longtime archery coach. Shupp, who worked at Hashawha Environmental Center for 20 years before starting her new job as recreation coordinator for the county, said archery was conducted indoors in the school system but took off outside when they got involved with NASP.
Her Fletchling Archery Team ― the name comes from fletching, the aerodynamic vanes or feathers used on arrows, and the fledgling group Shupp first put together ― began competing in 2013 with 25 archers, and has grown since then. Shupp said close to 40 participated this year, and Woodburn stood out a little.
Shupp recognized his want to volunteer (his family helped too) and come up with ways to make things better for the group, she said.
“He pretty much decided on his own ... we couldn’t go back to Hashawha to shoot outside, just because of the way Outdoor School is,” Shupp said. “We were always saying, ‘Oh, it would really cool if we had a place to go outside.’ It just never seemed to fit anywhere in any of the county parks, where we thought it would work and not be abused or nobody would get shot.”
Woodburn said Shupp guided his project in the right direction, making sure specifics were laid out and the location was ideal. Fletchling Archery Range saw its completion in September, Woodburn said, and while there hasn’t been an official grand opening people have used the facility via reservation through Carroll Rec & Parks.
Fletchling Archery Team members have also been there, just not yet in a competitive capacity.
Woodburn said he’s headed later this year to Grove City College in northwestern Pennsylvania and plans to pursue a computer science major. There’s no sign of an archery team within the Wolverines’ athletic program, but Woodburn said he’s already talked with one of his future professors, who teaches it at the high school level, about creating a club squad.
Woodburn has plenty of experience in starting something like that.
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“It’s going to useful to have that experience,” he said. “It’s really nice. Carroll County really [didn’t] have an archery range like we do now. As a high schooler, I kind of wanted to shoot outside without having to buy my own targets or set up stuff. I wanted to just drive there and start shooting. I thought it was just a great opportunity.”