By BETH ALTENA
Jeff DeRegnaucourt, the archer who coached Nicolas Cage for the movie “The Weatherman”, was ebullient during a Monday, July 8 ribbon cutting for the Ten Mile Road archery center. “It’s been seven years to get to this point,” he said.
The project, along with each of the multiple recreation opportunities underway and soon to come on the 300-acre property, was the result of cooperation with multiple government agencies, as noted by nearly all who have been involved with the projects.
DeRegnaucourt mentioned these relationships as he spoke during the official groundbreaking for the archery complex. “Plainfield Township, you own the ground. Algoma Township, you own the building. West Michigan Sports Commission, you are going to run it.” He said funding came from, and is still needed by, donors such as the Easton sports equipment company, and from grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund.
His enthusiasm was insuppressible as he talked about the future possibilities for the archery facility. “We will have a seniors’ day for archery. Won’t that be something with all the seniors we have around here looking for something fun to do? We will have a ladies’ archery, and Wounded Warrior therapeutic archery.”
He said Resurrection Life Church is already doing a program combining scriptures with archery, part of a nationwide faith-based archery program. DeRegnaucourt said locally there is already a seven-church archery league that looks forward to using the new facility.
He is also enthusiastic about a Youth At Risk hunt he said is under development, where kids who would otherwise not have the chance to hunt can learn. He said the kids, and parents or parent, will partner with an archery instructor who will introduce them to a participating landowner. The teachers will instruct the kids in the field how to create a blind, how to hunt and harvest a deer and follow a list of conduct throughout the process.
He said as part of the guided hunt, the kids will be instructed on how to tag and field dress a deer, offer the farmer a portion of the meat, and learn how to process the wild game and receive a cookbook. He said this is just one program that can take place through the new facility, and that many more will surely pop up in the future.
DeRegnaucourt said the facility is an incredible accomplishment and the result of dogged determination and hard work by any number of individuals. “A $50,000 pole barn is what we were hoping for in the beginning,” he stated. He said now this Olympic-style facility—one of only three across the United States—is on its way. He gave kudos to the foresight of Plainfield Township’s Superintendent Bob Homan, now retired, Department of Parks and Recreation John Short and Community Development Director Bill Fischer.
At Algoma Township, DeRegnaucourt also heaped praise, citing Supervisor Dennis Hoempke and Clerk Judy Bigney. “Now we are part of a $10 million dollar sports complex.”
He said Rockford Archery is a non-profit organization, with limited means. “This would not have happened without Algoma Township, Plainfield Township and Kent County.” He said the Easton Sports Foundation out of California stepped up to be the key donor with $500,000 for the facility. Another $500,000 came from a DNR trust fund grant from the taxation of mining mineral and gas in the State of Michigan. The Rockford Area Community Endowment gave the project a $5,000 grant.
Those who will benefit from the project include local archers, such as Nicole Scheid, age 11, of Grand Rapids. She recently began participating in the Rockford Archery program, learning to shoot long bow and recurve bows. According to her grandfather, Al Couch, the child was in love with the sport from day one.
“I think this will be a great place for people to learn archery,” she stated. She said she looks forward to seeing the development of the BMX course nearby and the 3-D ranges in the archery complex. Her grandfather said he has been impressed with the archery program and said the club allows new users to use their equipment for free until the student decides what sort of archery they want to do.
She has been in the Junior Olympic Archery Development program in Rockford. “I shoot long bow and recurve at home. I like that, I like all of it. It’s my favorite hobby. When I don’t have something I am supposed to be doing, that’s what I go do,” she stated. “This is going to be a great setup, it will be awesome.”