Panola Mountain State Park Hits Bulls-Eye with Archery

By: Sue Rodman

I’ve been doing a little research for a post on Experiencing the Hunger Games in Atlanta. If you’ve read any of the books, you know the main character, Katniss Everdeen is an expert archer.  So of course my research had to include learning how to use a bow and arrow, and the best place to learn archery. I may have been channeling Katniss, but my youngest, who joined me, was pretending to be Will from the Ranger’s Apprentice young adult book series. Something for everyone.

Our quest led us to archery at Panola Mountain State Park, about 20 minutes outside of downtown Atlanta.  Panola State Park has classes every Saturday and Sunday. You can find a list of classes on archery at Panola Mountain State Park on their website. Be sure to make a reservation prior to heading out, the classes are popular and large groups can fill a class quickly. (It also struck me as an awesome birthday party idea.) You are welcome to bring your own archery equipment, but it’s not necessary, as they have everything you need right there displayed in a colorful line that I spent forever trying to photograph.

Learning archery at Panola Mountain State Park.
State park staff are on hand to offer tips and assistance although this guy did pretty well on his own.

Logistics of Archery at Panola Mountain State Park
Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the class begins. If you’ve paid online, go straight to the archery range. If you haven’t paid, you’ll need to visit the nature center first. The archery range is down a separate road from the main entrance to Panola Mountain Park, so consult a map carefully, or just leave a little extra time to find your way. I was hopelessly lost in the parking lot and ended up having to ask the ranger at the front gate for directions again. So much for my survivor skills. I wouldn’t last five minutes in the Hunger Games arena.

Bulleye on the archery range at Panola Mountain State Park.
Eat your heart out Katniss, I scored several bulls eyes! Really, I’m not that competitive, but look at that bullesye. Dead center.

Archery at Panola Mountain State Park
I don’t know that either my son or I will be taking down charging foes anytime soon, but it was a lot of fun archery. I found myself getting a bit competitive after a good shot or a tiny bit of praise from the instructor. It’s addictive too. I could have easily stayed for another half hour trying to replicate my bulleyes (notice I used the plural there:)  My son enjoyed educating me on draw weight and we confirmed that both of us are right eye dominate (my older two are left-eye dominate, which we learned in another archery session years ago.)

Standard and 3D Archery Ranges
In addition to archery classes, Panola Mountain has two different archery ranges. There is a standard range with targets at varying distances, as well as 3D archery range where you walk through the woods to find different animal targets. The 3D range is in the woods which would have made it feel a little more like the woods of Castle Redmont, which is the setting of the Ranger’s Apprentice books. In order to use the ranges, you’ll need to bring your own equipment.

Learning our dominate side at Panola Mountain State Park's archery class.
Performing a simple test to find out whether you are left eye or right eye dominate. This information will help you select the right bow.

Biking at Panola Mountain State Park
On our visit to Panola Mountain, we brought along bikes and did the lake loop a few times. My son said he was pretending they were our horses and we were galloping through the kingdom like the characters in his current book, Eragon. This horse had to work harder than expected to get up the hills on the path. After a bit of initial complaining, my 9-year-old did fine and requested we go around a second time, but it might be a little hard for young or novice bikers who will likely walk up the hills and might have some trouble on the downhill as there are some sharp turns. Watch out for wildlife too. We took a little break to allow a black snack to cross the path. If we had more time, I would have liked to take the path to Arabia Mountain Park, but we decided to save that for another day.

If you don’t live near Panola State Park, Ga. here is a list of archery and shooting ranges in Georgia. Who knew there were so many!

What: Archery Classes
Where: Panola Mountain State Park | 2600 Highway 155, SW, Stockbridge , GA 30281
When: Saturdays and Sundays
Cost: $10 per person plus $5 parking fee.
Archery range is $10 for a day pass and $150 for a yearly family pass

Static archery range at Panola Mountain State Park
In addition to classes, Panola Mountain has two archery ranges. One with targets and the other a 3D range.

This post contains affiliate links to books my children have loved reading. I enjoyed the Rangers Apprentice and Hunger Games too.