Markus Erdmann is hoping to establish an Archery Park for Nelson. Photo: Judene Edgar.

Archery Park for Nelson on target

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Wannabe Robin Hoods and Katniss Everdeens may soon have the opportunity to test their skills, in a first-of-its-kind three-dimensional archery park proposed for Nelson.

Archery has made a significant revival thanks to movies such as The Hunger Games and Brave, and now Nelson looks set to get in on the action thanks to archer Markus Erdmann.

“I want to take this inspiration, provide all the gear and training, and give people an amazing outdoors experience,” says Markus.

Starting his archery training in Germany over 15 years ago, Markus was surprised and disappointed that it was conducted indoors. The ‘clinical’ indoor conditions weren’t the ‘Robin Hood experience’ that he was seeking.

However, his love for the sport saw him training alongside Olympic archers and competing, and winning, at tournaments.

But his desire to combine archery with the outdoors never dimmed, and before shifting to New Zealand he had already set up a small company running 3D archery for groups and parties.

“Kids don’t always like a bush walk, but I soon discovered that give them a bow and arrow and they’ll walk for days,” says Markus.

Shifting to New Zealand saw this passion put on hold for a while, but the organiser of Nelson’s recent Startup Weekend for entrepreneurs and venues project manager for the Cricket World Cup, says that the time is now right.

“There are 3D archery parks all over Europe and even an archery village in Austria,” he says. “It’s such a fantastic way to get people to forget about technology for a while and enjoy the outdoors.”

Unlike a typical archery range which is flat with targets set at exact distances, in 3D archery three-dimensional animal targets are placed along a hiking trail. Each target creates a different shooting scenario depending upon location, size and terrain.

Markus has eight new targets arriving shortly, including a small deer, rabbit, boar, beaver and a dragon. The targets are made from a ‘self-healing foam’ that closes again after the arrow has been removed.

“I think it really complements Nelson’s reputation as an outdoor adventure sports hub,” he says.

With his first practice round under his belt, Markus is hoping to be up-and-running in the new year, initially in the weekends for group events such as birthday parties, school outing and stag dos.

Markus is also looking at adding dodge archery, a heart-pumping combination of the thrill of dodge ball with the precision of archery. Using round foam-tipped arrows, he says that the impact is less than paintball.

“I’m running a survey on Facebook to get feedback on what people would like to see to help me plan what opens and when,” he says. “I have a site in the Brook Valley that I’m using at the moment, but I’d also be keen to hear from anyone who has a farm or forestry block who might be interested in letting us use their property.”

Search ‘Archery Park Nelson’ on Facebook and complete the survey before November 25 to go into the draw to win a handcrafted replica medieval arrow.