The freewheeling days of backyard bow hunting are coming to an end in Langford.
Langford bylaw services is proposing a citywide ban on using bows or crossbows on private property, which is still allowed if the arrows have a blunt practice tip.
The existing firearms and bow-use bylaw was adopted more than a decade ago, when Langford had larger residential lots and errant arrows had less chance of landing in a neighbour’s property, or backside.
“When this was adopted in 2000, Langford didn’t have a lot of small-lot subdivisions,” said senior bylaw officer Lorne Fletcher. “Now that the city has moved to small lots, if you don’t contain an arrow it will get into a neighbour’s yard in no time at all.”
The number of resident complaints about backyard archery has been low, perhaps three in the past decade, Fletcher said. The City is trying to improve public safety, he added, and keep bylaws in tune with a growing urban municipality.
“We’ve had a couple inquiries from families, one had a neighbour using bows in their yard,” he said. “It’s not been a issue that’s drawn much attention at all.”
A decade ago, bow hunters and archery enthusiasts complained about losing the ability to practice their sport, prompting Langford council to offer the existing exemption. These days, most archers and bow hunters use dedicated ranges for target practice.
“If you’re a hunter, you practice in organized groups,” Fletcher said. “Enthusiasts use the proper facilities. It’s would be rare for people to practice in their backyard.”
Langford’s protective services committee give its thumbs-up to the proposal. Council will make the final decision.
One committee member noted that Langford is still home to larger acreages, but Fletcher said the bylaw amendment is meant to be as simple as possible. The bylaw would quickly become unwieldy and a potential legal liability if the City started making exemptions for minimum lot size, target sizes and backstop materials.
“It’s a matter of public safety,” said committee chair Coun. Lillian Szpak. “We recognize this is a sport, but (banning bow use) is common sense with the density we have.”