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Lathrop Park adds archery and horses

by Clint Boehler
LATHROP — Now open to the public is a free archery range at Lathrop State Park. Park Manager John Brandstatter proudly announced that the Phase I, Big Game Readywise archery range construction is complete enough to be open to the public.
The range is located one mile west of the park entrance on Hwy. 160 on the north side of the road. A log perimeter marks the parking area and a sign identifying the range is at the gate. Currently, the range consists of a large master target with marked distances in 10 yard intervals back to 80 yards.
This allows archers to sight in their equipment without having to measure and compute distances. There is also a provision for what is known to archery enthusiasts as a ‘Walkback Test’ which provides for fine tuning windage adjustments. Technology has come a long way since Robin Hood and his trusty longbow.
Brandstatter is an avid bowhunter and was looking for a way to provide services to Huerfano County bowshooters. Brandstatter collaborated with District Wildlife Manager Kevin Madler and together they organized ideas and solicited funding from the state lottery system. Up to this point $4,500 has been spent constructing the parking area and an additional $1,800 in amenities that not only include a shooting lane to the master target, but at the park office, shooters can check out at no cost, a full size life-like mule deer mannequin target suitable for shooting with broadhead type hunting arrows. The large rectangular master target is only suitable for use with ‘field points’ and does not support the razor sharp broadheads used in hunting big game.
Future expansion of the archery range includes adding 20-30 yard recreational shooting ranges along with trails to targets of opportunity. Brandstatter said he has obtained some ideas from an elaborate archery range currently located at Lake Pueblo. That location has several shooting lanes providing a variety of bowshooting situations. No reservations or passes are necessary to use the Lathrop Park Archery Range. It is available first come, first serve.
Brandstatter is very proactive about trying to provide more programs to park users. After many years of exclusion, Brandstatter said he was approached by Huerfano County resident Cheryl Denny, an avid horsewoman. She asked if an equestrian section could again be made available in the park and worked with Brandstatter to organize horse trails around Horseshoe lake. Brandstatter said that in years past, horses were excluded because of abuse by the users. He said the horse trailers would be cleaned out and horse apples (droppings) would be scattered along the park roads. This caused public complaints enough to exclude equestrian usage. For now, equestrian users will be on the honor system of cleaning up after their mounts and while in the park, “Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but hoofprints.” The trails are not supervised and riders are asked to follow signage along the trails.
The two mile horse trail has entrance accesses located at the northwest and southwest corners of Horseshoe lake. There are signs locating “Equestrian Parking Areas” and other signs advising riders to stay off the roads as much as possible. Since the trails are a park funded program, riders must have a current park pass to use the trails. Horses only need comply with state laws concerning health issues and it is probable that with exposure to the wildlife population in the park, a current Coggins test would be expected.
For more detailed information on using the new park programs, contact the Lathrop State Park office during normal business hours at 719-738-2376 or stop in at the office at 70 C.R. 502 (across from Spanish Peaks Hospital).