What started as nothing more than an idea and a few passionate local folks who love to shoot a bow and arrow continued to grow into something really remarkable last Saturday.
Two years after getting the Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Indoor Archery Club off the ground, thanks to the vision and passionate pursuit of president Mark Bain, it officially became the Outdoor Archery Club as well. On Saturday morning, the ribbon was cut and archers began firing their crossbows at six different targets in the open field thicket behind the Miami Springs Country Club’s restaurant and pro shop.
“The indoor group was growing and getting so big that it got to the point where we wanted to look into creating something outdoors as well,” said Bain. “I was walking back this way one day last year when I looked around and thought, what a great spot to put up targets.”
Bain eventually approached the city council about the idea of “utilizing” space that was otherwise going unused and promised that it would not cost the city a dime.
True to his word, after getting the green light from the city, Bain got on his horse and, thanks to some generous sponsors and people donating their time, quickly raised the $5,000 needed to make it a reality.
“It was an absolute win-win for both the city and the archery club, so we didn’t hesitate when Mark came to us with the idea,” said City Manager Ron Gorland, on hand for the festivities, which included plenty of delicious food and drink. “I believe he came to me just before last Christmas with the plan and I just thought, here we have 183 acres and plenty of spare space and it’s no cost to the city, so why not?”
And away they went on Saturday. Not long after city officials, including Gorland, Councilmen Michael Windrem, Jaime Petralanda, Billy Bain and George Lob — the latter himself is an Archery club officer — cut the ribbon, away the arrows went.
John Waterhouse, owner of Archery Best Edge down in southwest Miami, who also serves as the resident “on-site” instructor for the club, was given the honor of firing the first arrow. A yellow balloon was in the center of the 40-yard target and Waterhouse “nailed it” with his arrow as the crowd applauded. The Outdoor Archery Range was officially open.
Six different targets sit in a left-to-right row 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards away and not only were there plenty of adults firing away, but lots of kids of all ages as well, which is what makes Bain most proud.
“This is what we’re all about and have always wanted to be about,” said Bain. “Family, family, family. So many of these other ranges have there little ‘cliques’ or prima donnas, we don’t do any of that here. We preach making this a family thing and we actually have shooters coming from all over Miami-Dade and Broward counties just because they love this club so much.”
And, with the only other outdoor ranges being in Homestead and Fort Lauderdale, Miami Springs is now right smack in the middle.
“Mark (Bain) is great,” said Jenny Avila, one of the sharpshooters on this day as she stood shooting at the 60-yard target (and hitting the center, we might add). “He is the heart and soul of all of this and his enthusiasm kind of spreads and gives off on everyone else. It’s great that we now have an outdoor range because many of the competitions we go to are outdoor as well as indoor, so you need to be practicing on both.”