brand-new, “3-D target” indoor archery arena opened in Calverton on Oct. 1, the first day of hunting season.
The 10,000-square-foot facility called Thrill of the Hunt offers 30 life-size animals made of dense rubber as targets and five stations to shoot from, with six color-coded and numbered targets to shoot per station. Each round costs $18 and a competition costs $25.
Art Binder, a former horse trainer who owns the arena, said the construction of the facility began in early June and cost about $1 million.
He said the shooting range is not for the faint of heart. The arena only allows advanced shooters who have had experience at professional archery clubs.
“These aren’t toys,” he said, pointing to two compound bows with elliptical wheels displayed on the wall.
The arrows travel at a speed of 280 feet per second. The bows are made with an aluminum riser and a laminated rim. Cables and a string are attached between limbs on the top and bottom of the bow, creating leverage to release the arrow, he said.
And shooting requires pinpoint accuracy.
“It requires 100 percent concentration,” he said. “Ninety-five percent isn’t good enough.”
The indoor facility has a natural, outdoor feel, with a rolling terrain of dirt and different elevations. The animal targets include a fox, bobcat, turkey, mongoose, bear and deer in different positions. Circular targets are drawn on each animal’s vital area so that, as in hunting, the animal is shot and killed instantly and is not tortured with a slow, painful death.
Mr. Binder said archery shooters are not necessarily hunters, but both sports involve a respect for animal life.
“We don’t kill animals; we harvest them,” he said.
Mr. Binder, a 22-year Calverton resident, said archery is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country and expects business to pick up when hunting season on Long Island ends in January. Archery is one of the safest sports, he said, contending that there are more injuries in pingpong than in archery.
Wounded veterans can shoot at Thrill of the Hunt for free, and Mr. Binder is planning a Wounded Warrior charity event where he’ll hold a competition shoot and 50 percent of his earnings will be donated to the Wounded Warrior foundation.
One of the arena’s first shooters was Thomas Slawinski, who has shot at at least 150 archery ranges across the country. He counts Thrill of the Hunt as one of the top 10 arenas he’s ever visited.
He cited the large space of the facility and the fact that it has big mounds, a dirt ground and different elevations as reasons that make it stand out among others.
“[Mr. Binder] has a lot of potential to do different types of shooting positions and he can set up the course a different way any time he wants.” said Mr. Slawinski, a carpenter who says he shoots every weekend.
Currently, Mr. Slawinski holds the highest score at Thrill of the Hunt, raking in 304 points out of a possible 400.
Mr. Slawinski likens archery to golf.
“I enjoy the hobby of being in the outdoors, walking through the woods and trying to shoot your best score,” he said.
This post was originally published Oct. 19, 2010