On Sunday, Stowe Archers held our monthly membership meeting. Several members arrived early and were talking amongst themselves when I arrived. The discussion centered around the quality of an area 3D Shoot and the lack of trail markers on the course.
As I was getting ready for the meeting I listened to a story one of the members was telling. He and a friend were at a 3D Shoot that wasn’t marked very well. They wound up getting turned around in the woods and suddenly they were well off the path. They could hear arrows thumping into targets all around them and they had no idea how to safely get back out.
I’ve never been in a situation like that but I can only imagine how scary it can be. The last thing I want to happen when shooting outdoor 3D is to get turned around and wind up wandering around between an archer and their intended target.
Fortunately, there is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way of keeping your shooters safe. You can do this by spending a couple of bucks on supplies to make an abundance of Trail Markers.
Making Trail Markers
Before the Outdoor 3D season kicked off here in Southeast Pennsylvania, members of our club got together to do a little house cleaning at the club. While going through supplies we found a pile of trail markers tossed into the bottom of a five-gallon bucket. The plastic ribbon was wrinkled, cracked, and ripped.
Upon seeing the mess of pink ribbon, my OCD qualities kicked into overdrive. My immediate thought was to use a Trail Marker system just like Hamburg Game Association uses for their 3D Shoots. Ribbon is attached to a clothes pin. The closed pin hangs on a branch to mark the trail then, after the shoot is finished, gets collected and placed onto clothes hangers to keep them in good shape.
Making the trail marker is really simple. I headed over to my local hardware store and picked up a roll of florescent pink marking tape. I opted for a woven type of non-adhesive tape (not the common plastic strip). It cost a little more but I felt that it would hold up better than the cheap stuff.
While at the hardware store, I also picked up a few rolls of colored electrical tape. I wound up spending less than $5 on a variety pack which included several different colors. I like the electrical tape because it allows me to stretch the tape and get a better bite on the clothes pin.
Last, I stopped in at Walmart and picked up a 100 count pack of wooden clothes pins. I think these cost something like $3.00 per pack.
Making the actual trail marker is very simple. All we did was take a piece of pink ribbon and cut it to a length of twelve inches. That ribbon (non-adhesive tape) is then attached onto a wooden clothes pin with a strip of electrical tape.
The work itself is simple, however, it can be tedious. I found that I could only make about 30 trail markers at a time before I felt like I was going cross-eyed and my fingers ached (there isn’t much room to wrap the tape around the small leg of the clothes pin). You’ll want to make sure that the first wrap of tape is half on the pink ribbon and half on the wooden clothes pin – otherwise the pink ribbon will easily slip off.
Marking Your Trails
During setup of our event I began hanging our new trail markers. I wasn’t sure how many to use, so I asked the Range Captain. His response really summed up the purpose of the trail markers.
“Don’t skimp on them – Hellen Keller should be able to get through our course safely…”
Since then we have made an additional 100 trail markers and I think I’m going to pick up another 100 clothes pins so that we have plenty on hand. Our club utilizes about 30 acres of land and you would be amazed at how many markers it takes to blaze the trails.
The only suggestion I would make is to be careful about hanging them in front of your shooting positions. When the wind blows, the pink ribbon flapping in the breeze can be very distracting to shooters.
In addition to the trail Markers, we also use strips of caution tape to block off paths that would lead into a dangerous location. The caution tape looks horrible (very out of place in the woods – it detracts from the feel of the event) but it works very well to keep archers who aren’t looking for ribbon from wandering off.
We may go a bit overboard with our trail markers but I like hanging them every 20 feet – or so.
When the 3D Shoot is over we walk the course and collect them (making sure none are left behind in the event that we alter the course the following month). To keep things organized they are hung on a plastic clothes hanger.
Non-Adhesive Flagging Tape – $5.56 on Amazon
100-Pack Wooden Clothes Pins – $6.46 at Walmart (I paid less in store)
The pink marking ribbon and electrical tape go a long way and can be used to make a couple hundred trail markers – all you need to do is purchase more clothes pins as needed.
Inexpensive Trail Markers make all the difference in the world and are a great way to keep shooters safe.