A St. Michael couple and a hard-working friend have teamed together to bring St. Michael-Albertville the latest and greatest in archery, one of the fastest-growing activities in Minnesota.
opened its doors shortly after the New Year, and the reaction has ranged from overwhelmingly positive to simply bowled over by the amenities the new business provides.
"We wanted to provide everything that we, as bow hunting enthusiasts, would want from our range," said Mark Shambaugh, co-owner.
Shambaugh and friend Rick Kangas worked together at a different range in the north metro, but weren't happy.
"We thought we really could do so much more for our customers and for people who wanted a better experience. We thought, 'Well, we can do this better.' So we decided to break out on our own," Shambaugh said.
The longest part of the process was finding a location. Kangas, who has shot sporting clays at the Crow River Gun Club, which is just down the road, found the empty building near J&B Group to be the perfect solution.
"We wanted enough space to field a full-service pro shop and a good sized range," Kangas, who is assisted by his wife, Jody, with the programming at the shop, said. "This building allowed us to do even more."
Indeed, there are lanes longer than anywhere on the north side of the Twin Cities, with the longest targets set at more than 35 yards. A sight-in alley is available, for tuning repaired or re-strung bows, that is just 20 feet. And, right off the main entrance, there is a 2-D range with a screen, perfect for simulated hunting, dubbed TechnoHunt.
"You can come in and hunt turkey, rabbit, deer ... anything the computer can come up with," Shambaugh said. "It's really pretty cool. It's become one of the main attractions.
There are leagues galore, from the TechnoHunt to the main range, and for all levels. Shambaugh said the youth program has really taken off, and he hopes to work with the school district to make archery another school-related activity.
"I can see them bringing kids over here for practices, with us providing coaching. It's not just growing here. Archery is really gaining in popularity pretty much everywhere," Shambaugh said.
Kangas said some special events, including an open house last month and a turkey hunting expo last weekend, have helped expose Midwest Archery to a host of new people. Dealer events (similar to dealer days at a golf range, for example) will also be on tap for the different lines of bows, arrows and gear the pro shop has on hand.
There is a party room for gatherings, again for all ages. The lounge is a favorite for shooters who are participating in one of the many leagues.
"I think people like it for a change of pace. And like anything else, there's the friendships you get from doing something with people who share your interest," Kangas added.
Midwest Archery is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, call 763-515-6366 or visit their website.