Archery, Nature Spark Interest At GLSM Park

Tricia Ison takes aim at a target down range at an archery station at the Grand Lake St. Marys Fall Festival on Saturday afternoon. Ison got her start in archery during a chance encounter four years ago.
Staff Writer

One encounter can spark a lifelong passion. For Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Naturalist Laura Walker, that’s exactly what she is hoping to do. 

For the past five years, Walker has been offering different kinds of experiences for kids and adults to try as they wander the campground at Grand Lake during the annual Fall Festival, particularly an archery range. 

Set up near the Grand Lake Visitors Office on the south end of the campground, Walker had a tent with two foam targets and a mesh safety net serving as her shooting range. Most of the time, she said, she is able to use a trailer provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife but it was unavailable this year.

With bows for all ages and two distances to shoot from, Walker helped guide guests of all ages in the safe use of a bow. She said that this year, she even helped teach a family that had just moved from Spain how to start in the sport of archery. By the end of the session — and after working through a bit of a language barrier — she said both kids were putting successful shots down range.

Also on hand at the festival on Saturday was one of Walker’s first archery students, Jay County, Indiana native Tricia Ison. 

“I came here camping with my family, saw there was an archery station here one time and I spent both Saturday and Sunday shooting and I fell in love with it,” she said. 

Since getting started in archery on a chance encounter at Grand Lake St. Marys, Ison has helped her school’s archery team compete at the state level for the past three years and she even competed at the world level in her eighth-grade year.

Offered throughout the park’s recreational season from Memorial Day through Labor Day, Walker noted that the park offers archery lessons on Saturday mornings. During the offseason, she said interested groups can request a naturalist activity, including archery.

“I love outdoor education,” Walker added. “It’s always been a passion of mine to get kids outside and to get them learning about the outdoors, even without realizing that you’re learning.”