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Backyard Archery Legality Issues

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. Where can I do archery?

#2. Is it safe and legal to do it in my backyard or similar locations?

#3. Is there a designated place to do archery in my city?

#4. Where else can someone go to do archery?

#5. Is it possible to get permission to shoot inside certain buildings?


Answers


 #1. The short answer: Anywhere that is safe and legal to do so.

The long answer is more complicated as it varies on your location and local laws.

In Toronto it is illegal to do archery in a public park, unless you have a permit or if it is a designated area that is purposely for archery. This is governed by Toronto Bylaw 608-4.

608-4. Firearms and offensive weapons.
  • A. While in a park, no person shall be in possession of or use a firearm, air gun, cross bow, bow and arrow, axe, paint guns or offensive weapon of any kind unless authorized by permit.
  • B. Despite Subsection A, bows and arrows may be used in designated areas in accordance with posted conditions.

So with respect to public parks a person can do archery if they either (A) get a permit or (B) only do archery in the designated locations (eg. The Toronto Archery Range located at E. T. Seton Park).

Now we should also note it is also possible to do archery on private property. Such locations are typically private archery ranges located at universities, indoor archery ranges, archery tag locations, etc.


#2. Yes and No. It depends.

Depending on the city you live in it is usually legal to do archery in your backyard, garage, basement, or other indoor facilities. What really matters here is two factors:

  1. Whether your city has banned any kind of outdoor shooting, release or throwing of items considered to be weapons. Some cities have outright banned the "release" or firing of such weapons. eg. Toronto has banned it in public parks, but there is no general ban.
  2. Whether you have taken steps to ensure the safety of your neighbours, passersby, etc. If the archer is recklessly shooting in a place with no safety precautions, then that is illegal regardless because it is Reckless Endangerment with a Firearm.

Imagine for example if someone was doing archery in their front yard and people walking by on the sidewalk are in danger of being injured (and possibly killed). Well then that constitutes Reckless Endangerment with a Firearm, which carries a penalty of a $4,000 fine and possible prison time.

So the backyard, garage, basement, etc is definitely safer, but in the case of a backyard the archer should also be taking steps to ensure that it is even more safe. eg. High fences would be ideal, shooting on a downward angle at a target placed on the ground, and exercising clear safety rules.

The safest alternative obviously is to only be shooting indoors in a garage, basement or similar location. eg. I know of several people who have convinced their employers to let them shoot in their warehouse during their lunch break, using stacks of old cardboard boxes in the warehouse as targets - cardboard doomed to recycled anyway.

That doesn't mean however that it isn't possible or legal to shoot in a backyard however. The person doing so simply needs to take various safety measures so that if they are ever asked by police about their backyard archery practice that they can prove that they are doing it in a safe manner that is not endangering anyone.

So for example a neighbour could phone the police and complain, and when police investigate and interview you then you would be able to show that you are using high fences, arrow netting, shooting on a downward angle towards a target on the ground and similar precautions. The police would then determine that there is no point in arresting you as you've proven that you've taken the necessary safety precautions and that you are not shooting recklessly over any fences and into the properties of your neighbours.

#3. In Toronto, Yes.

In Toronto we are fortunate to have the Toronto Archery Range, a free public archery range that is open 24/7 all year long. It is, to my knowledge, the only free public archery range in North America. (Burnaby has a similar public archery range, but it isn't free to use.)

You can learn more about the Toronto Archery Range by visiting:
http://www.archerytoronto.ca/Toronto-Archery-Range.html

Are there any other "designated areas" in Toronto where you can do archery outdoors? No, but there are a few indoor archery ranges that are privately run by universities and archery tag locations.

Very few cities have their own outdoor archery range. eg. Montreal has one, which I believe is privately owned. (If you know whether this is true or false please correct me in the comments.)

If you know of other cities or towns that have their own public archery range please post it in the comments.

#4. Outside the city limits.

If you leave the city limits of Toronto there are a variety of places where a person can do archery. Private archery ranges are at the top of the list, but a person could potentially also rent a small chunk of land from a farmer and build a small private archery range for use by themselves and their friends.

If you have family who owns farmland or a cabin up north or similar property you could ask your family if its okay to visit and shoot on their property. eg. I keep a recurve bow and assorted equipment at my parents' farm just for this express purpose, this way I don't have to bring archery equipment with me when I visit, it is already there.

#5. Yes, it definitely is possible.

Although it is difficult to obtain, some locations will sometimes allow archers to shoot on their premises. Especially if it is for a publicity stunt.

The photos below are of Canadian archery champions Wayne Pullen, Ron Lippert and Sheila Brown shooting inside the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto prior to the 860 foot long shopping mall being opened. The photos were taken by Globe and Mail photographer Tibor Kelly in May 1976. (It is from the cover of the May 17th 1976 issue.)

In order to be able to shoot in the Eaton Centre the three champions had to don hard hats in case anything fell on them. We assume the construction crew was on lunch break at the time they took the photos, and the three champion archers and the Globe and Mail photographer certainly had the permission of the Eaton Corporation. These aren't the kinds of photographs you could get without obtaining permission first.

The photographs are from newspaper clippings saved by Sheila Brown. We can all thank her for having the foresight to save a copy of this historical moment in Toronto archery history.


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