GREENFIELD – Backyard archery using weapons designed for hunting is now banned in Greenfield.
The city council this week expanded an ordinance that prohibits the use of weapons within city limits to include bows and arrows; violators will be charged a $50 fine. City rules already restrict residents from shooting guns, including airsoft, BB or toy guns capable of causing injury, except at a range.
The ordinance was first penned in the 1960s; in recent months, neighbor complaints prompted city officials to consider adding archery equipment to the list.
The version of the ordinance that was approved is scaled back from what was first proposed in late February. As originally drafted, the rule would have banned all archery — including children’s toy sets — within city limits except at a shooting range.
After first proposing the ordinance in February, council members heard from residents who thought the ordinance was too broad.
The original version would have banned children from learning archery in their backyard with a small bow that likely wouldn’t hurt anyone, said council president Gary McDaniel.
Rather than banning archery outright, the ordinance now prohibits the sport only if the person is using a high-caliber weapon intended to shoot game, he said.
“Most kids’ toys are not designed for hunting,” he said. “This allows for the kids to play, while protecting our kids.”
The ordinance does not prohibit residents from shooting an arrow to protect themselves or their property.
The rules haven’t changed for those who live outside city limits. The county has a similar ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a firearm or pellet gun in close proximity to a residence, but the ordinance doesn’t address archery.
City officials drafted the ordinance after hearing from a resident who was concerned about his neighbor shooting archery in the backyard. At the time, city rules didn’t prohibit the sport, and the family proposing a change cited safety concerns for their kids and animals.
Rachael McPherson, whose family ignited discussions about an ordinance change, thanked the council for drafting an ordinance that protects her children and others in the neighborhood.
Councilwoman Keely Butrum cast the lone vote against the ordinance, saying she heard from residents who didn’t support the change.
People living on multiple acres of land have plenty of space to safely practice the sport, she argued.
Butrum said she originally supported the idea, but after talking with constituents, especially those living on private land outside of subdivisions and neighborhoods, she learned they were opposed to it. Just an hour before this week’s meeting, she received two phone calls from people who were concerned about the change, she said.
“Without more specifics, it’s very broad,” she said. “My constituents thought it was overreach.”