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Wednesday evening, the Jasper City Council discussed an ordinance originally passed in 2004, allowing the use of bows and arrows inside the city limits. The discussion focused on two aspects of the ordinance; cleaning up the text and strengthening safety concerns, while also adding the use of crossbows to the ordinance. District 3 Council Member Chad Lueken first brought the issue up at a prior meeting, with the desire to make archery in Jasper safer and more inclusive.

Among the speakers from the public, Kevin Shepherd with Great Outdoors of Jasper spoke on the growth of archery as a hobby. One particular area of growth has been for the use of crossbows, particularly for those physically restricted from using a compound bow.

District 4 Council Member Dave Hurst pointed out that shooting a firearm within City Limits is illegal, raising the question on the difference between firearms and crossbows. For Shepherd the similarities are small.

Discussion focused heavily on safety concerns. The cleaned up language of the ordinance gives more detail specifics on what is required. For starters all targets are required to have a backstop 100% in size on both sides of the target and a height of six feet, with a minimum length of six feet on either side. Archers whom are underage must be supervised. Furthermore, no target should be in the direction of a street or public right of way. And the ordinance gives the discretion to the city police on determining recklessness and unsafe conditions. For Jasper Chief of Police Nathan Schmitt, the police are of no opinion when it comes to the ordinance. The important thing for him is ability for the police to act.

Recklessness and bad actors were not the only concerns brought up.  City Attorney Renee Kabrick expressed her worries for when the safety standards fail.

Other concerns expressed were simply over the idea of archery in someone’s back yard in the middle of Jasper. The current ordinance is fairly vague, but the update offers strengthened language on what is an unsafe environment. Additionally several members of the council appeared to agree that a large portion of the homes in Jasper would not meet the criteria of a safe location for the practice of archery.  The original ordinance, and this new one, simply provides more opportunity for the citizens of Jasper.  Council Member At Large Phil Mundy spoke from a personal incident when a neighbor’s child hit his grill with an arrow.  For him, it simply is not acceptable to allow archery in Jasper with houses in the line of sight. 

Ultimately the council voted 4-3 to approve the new ordinance, however the vote came on the first reading of the ordinance which requires a 5-2, or two thirds vote to be adopted.

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