At home on the range

STC grad opens archery business in Toledo

Owner Rick Hopper of Toledo draws an arrow back at the archery range at his new business in Toledo. Otter Creek Archery carries PSE and Bowtech brand bows with price points to meet a range of budgets. Hopper said his retail space will offer bow hunting accessories including stabilizers, rests, sights, quivers, arrows and broadheads. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

With hunting season now in full swing throughout the State of Iowa, a new business in the Tama-Toledo area looks to make the popular pastime an option year-round.

This fall Rick Hopper of Toledo opened up Otter Creek Archery, a full-service archery range, bow shop and hunting retail store.

The new business is located at the former Gray’s Auction building on South County Road/Highway 63 in Toledo, just north of Ross Street.

Hopper closed on the building in early July and since then has been working to renovate the interior.

Projects have included installing spray foam insulation, new lights and electrical system and updates to the heating and cooling system done by Hardon’s Inc. of Tama.

Rick Hopper of Toledo recently opened Otter Creek Archery, an archery range and retail outlet for bow hunting enthusiasts. Hopper is pictured earlier this month standing at the far end of the shooting lanes that are now open for use. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

Hopper is a Toledo native, graduating from South Tama County in 2012 before going on to complete a degree at Iowa State University in 2017. He currently farms with his family north of Toledo.

Hopper began hunting when he was 16 when a friend invited him along during deer season. He said once he bagged his first deer, he fell in love with the sport and has gotten more into it as the years have gone by.

Inspiration for a shop like Otter Creek Archery struck when Hopper was traveling in Missouri and happened across a similar store that combined a bow shooting range and a retail outlet for archery and hunting equipment.

The impetus to pull the trigger on the venture in Toledo came when Steve Formanek of Belle Plaine announced he was going to be getting out of the archery business, leaving a hole to be filled within the local market.

The former auction house building was a good fit as it’s long enough to accommodate shooting lanes and wide enough for additional retail space.

An exterior shot of the building in Toledo along Highway 63 purchased by Rick Hopper for his new business Otter Creek Archery.

The shooting lanes feature three targets that can be used by up to six people at a time. Hopper anticipates Otter Creek Archery to be a destination for bow shooting leagues and tournaments within the coming year.

Archers can bring their own equipment in to shoot with and in the future Hopper said rental items will be available to broaden the options for customers.

One of the unique features of Hopper’s business is the addition of the TechnoHunt hunting simulator. The simulator has a dedicated shooting lane where archers can use their own bow and arrows to shoot at a large screen that projects video of various animals in the wild.

Shooters have the option to select from hundreds of scenarios in different environments with animals ranging from turkeys to alligators.

The system uses laser sensors surrounding the screen to detect where on the animal the arrow has landed. Regular arrowheads are swapped for special blunt tips that allow the arrow to stick to the screen once fired.

The TechnoHunt simulator will cost $10 per person for 30-45 minute sessions. The game can fit up to four players at once.

Otter Creek Archery will be only the fourth location in the state of Iowa to offer the TechnoHunt simulator, with the nearest location in Iowa City.

Hopper hopes the shooting ranges will help attract customers from outside the area that may be looking to keep their skills sharp during the off season months.

Currently Otter Creek Archery is open for business while the last few finishing touches are being put on the facility. This month Hopper has been working primarily to acquire inventory for his retail space that will offer all types of archery equipment as well as general hunting supplies like stands, blinds and accessories for deer and turkey hunting.

Behind the counter, the business will also offer repair and maintenance services for local hunters.

Hopper said since the business opened in the middle of harvest season he’s even delivered products to customers in the fields who were unable to make it into town during business hours.

He hopes to schedule a grand opening in the spring before farmers get back in the field and the business has had some time to acclimate to the local market.

Otter Creek Archery is located at 205 S. County Rd. in Toledo. Hours of operation are Mon-Fri 11-6:30 p.m.

Information about the business can be found on the company’s Facebook page at Otter Creek Archery or by calling 641-484-4528.