Bill Burkett, Jim Keeffer, Rita & Denny Ballard, Frank Dolezal
This is a somewhat recent picture of some members of the Whitetail Bowmen, the club that built this range.  Formed in the mid 60's, they laid the foundation for what you see today.

Contacting the Club -
The JCA Board of Directors
Click on a name to email that person.

2021/22 Officers:
President - Bill Heitzman
Vice President -  Vacant
Treasurer - Bob Randall
Secretary - Traci Heitzman
Operations - Dan Heitzman
Webmaster/Public Relations - Dan Heitzman
Safety - Kirk Parks

Al Coblentz
Frank Dolezal

General Club Email

The Johnson County Archers mission is to promote the challenge and protect the values of bowhunting, by educating hunters and non-hunters alike, by promoting fair chase, ethics and bowhunting skills by the example we set.  To encourage the use of the bow in hunting and archery as a sport that the whole family or simply the kids can enjoy the sport of archery under the guidance of experienced shooters.  To promote the spirit of good fellowship among all archers.
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the Johnson County Archers - Since 2001
2095 Mehaffey Bridge Rd NE North Liberty, Iowa      

Who are we and why should you care.
The Johnson County Archers, also known as the JCA, are a group of area archers who maintain the archery range at the University of Iowa’s McBride Nature Recreation Area, MNRA, for public use.  We also host several public 3D shoots at the archery range each year.
You should care about us if you are an archer and utilize the range at MNRA, or if you appreciate the free public access to an archery range.  Schools, youth groups, and the UI’s various wildlife camps use the range throughout the summer.  
The JCA maintains all archery facilities at the range without any financial support from the UI, their contribution is allowing us the use the area.  Maintaining the practice range and two timber courses are a large task for the small group of volunteers and a major cost for us.  The practice range sees large numbers of archers in the fall and spring causing considerable wear and tear on the targets and stands that hold them. In addition to normal wear from being shot and exposed to the weather, vandalism is a regular occurrence.  The JCA’s ability to maintain a full practice range has diminished over the years as membership and participation in 3D shoots has fallen off as those are our only funding sources. 
If you are an archer and appreciate having a place to shoot please consider contributing to our efforts.  Join the JCA or drop some cash in the donation box at the range.  Money from the donation box goes straight to the JCA, it’s our box and the money stays with us.

November 19, 2002

Chris Hayes
Johnson County Archers
Box 367
North Liberty, IA 52317

Dear Mr. Hayes:

I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the outstanding work of the Johnson County Archers in the improvements your organization has made at the archery range at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area. I have received many compliments on the improvements and how the course is being maintained better than ever before. I am quick to acknowledge the work of the Johnson County Archers.

There is no way, given our limited budget and limited staff, that we could maintain the range to the standard it now enjoys without the help of organizations such as yours.

Please pass on to your membership my sincere thanks for all their help.


Harry R. Ostrander 
Recreational Services

An Old Club Gets a New Life
 By Frank Dolezal - Fall 2001 

The Johnson County Archers are just that, an old club getting a new start. The club years ago used to be “The Whitetail Bowman”, but the club saw its membership and interest decline and the club discontinued. In the fall of 2000 Frank Dolezal, a past member of the Whitetail Bowman, decided to see what kind of interest there would be is starting up an archery club once again. Frank, begin an avid bowhunter and archer, took the bull by the horns and put up flyers at the old archery range and at Fin & Feather, asking anyone interested in starting a club up again to sign up on the flyers. IN roughly 2 months, there were close to 100 names of people interested in starting the club. At the beginning of the year, there were 4-5 meetings in the archery room at Fin & Feather, to bring together archers and bowhunters alike, to set down and talk about establishing a new club. At the present time, the Johnson County Archers have over 40 paid members and we are hopeful that by next year we will be we'll over 100 members. Out of these meeting came a new interest in getting the old archery range back in shape from years of neglect and damaging weather. Also, out of the meetings came a group of people with a renewed interest in putting together a hard working club once again. The club that was formed is called the “Johnson County Archers”. Early this spring, as soon as the snow was gone and the ground dried a little, we had work parties out on the trails. The work parties cut out trees that had either grown up over the trails or had fallen. We located the old target bunkers and found out how much work it was going to take to get the old range back in shape. Over the past three to three and a half months, the clubs work parties have transformed the range from not being able to see some of the trails, to having the trails 3-4 feet wide with a layer of mulch covering the muddy paths. The shooting bunkers went from being barely visible to being completely redone and special target bails placed in all bunkers. The trails have been cleared of overhead brush and undergrowth and shooting markers are in place at all the target sites for men, women and youth archers. In the upcoming weeks, there will be bow racks put up at each target. The club has also improved the practice range, by making the back stop higher and wider, which makes the practice range much safer. There are yardage markers at 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards and the club recently built a twelve foot tall shooting platform for its members. The shooting backstop at the practice range is currently 18 feet wide by 5 feet tall and in the future that will increase to over 26 feet wide. It is also in the plans to have chain link fence installed so that people will not be able to walk through the practice area. In the future, there are also plans for a 16’ X 30’ store shed to be built to house the club’s 3-D targets and other supplies. In the near future, we hope to offer instructional classes on archery. We have members that are going to take instructor classes so they will be certified to instruct both youth and adults who want to improve or learn the great sport of archery.
 We are planning for our first club shoot which will give us a chance to invite other clubs from around the state and local archers to come out and shoot a combination of 3-D targets and paper targets. We hope to have hot meals and cold drinks available at club shoots, with some camping 
Hakes: A creative guru 
of 3-D archery targets
July 28, 2015
Iowa City Press Citizen

Local bow hunters and archery buffs take their practice targets seriously, whether shooting at a traditional bull’s eye or a life-size replica of a Rocky Mountain elk.
They have a friend in Dan Heitzman, public relations officer for Johnson County Archers who doubles as the club’s go-to guy when it comes to providing interesting, three-dimensional targets.
At the extensive archery range at Macbride Nature Recreation Area, Heitzman is in charge of about 60 3D targets stored in a shed the club uses for that purpose. It includes an ATV to haul the heavier targets through the woods.
For serious hunters, the targets include a traditional bear, turkey, deer, badger, fox, wolverine and the like, positioned near shooting stations along course trails. For those who appreciate a little more whimsy, there are exotic and fantasy 3D targets like a crocodile, dinosaur, jackalope and skunk, plus a giant carp and frog.
There is also a zombie and Sasquatch.
“The fantasy targets? Some of my guys like them and some hate them,” Heitzman says with a grin. In addition to PR and target maintenance and management, he’s on the club board and serves as a records keeper and website manager.
And lately, he’s been fabricating a few exotic targets of his own to enhance the club’s 3D range. He digs through the inventory and pulls out a 7-foot-long caterpillar, plus a huge black widow spider and an oversize ant. He used garden hose for the spider’s legs and shop broom bristles for the caterpillar’s furry back. These are his babies.
When the club hosts one of its regional shooting events for archers, it takes Heitzman an hour to rig an 8-by-16-foot rope “spider web” between trees at one shooting station and position his giant spider accordingly. “It catches some attention,” he quips.
Hosting four or five such local shoots each year can draw up to 200 bow hunters at a time and is the club’s main source of funds. Participants are scored as they shoot arrows from 40 different stations, some up to a half-mile from the starting point. Some of the targets are challenging 60-yard shots.
The animal targets are tempting for thieves, so club members no longer leave them out in the woods for days at a time. They have lost a couple during the last 15 years the club has been established at Macbride, and are expensive to replace.
Regular manufactured 3D targets are made of a dense polyurethane foam and range from $150 to $600 each. Heitzman knows of another archery club that purchased a life-size moose for $3,000. “They keep it on a trailer and pull it out to a site and cover the trailer with grass,” he says. “It’s so tall they keep a ladder close so the short guys can pull their arrows out.”
Most of the factory-made targets have removable “kill zones” inserted within the body where the animal’s vital organs such as heart and lungs would be located. Bow hunters naturally shoot for those high-scoring areas, so that target section wears out faster and must be replaced more often. Because the material is so expensive, Heitzman salvages what he can from the discarded foam “vitals” to build his own creations.
“I’m fairly decent at making targets, but not great,” says this Hills resident who is a pipefitter by trade. “That’s why I stick to bugs.”
His expertise helps repair the manufactured targets as well. For example, the popular Sasquatch target developed such a serious hole in its chest that it became infested with mice. He was able to use expanding construction foam, glue and discarded vitals from a deer target to repair the beast.
“It’s kind of a collector’s item, since this model has been discontinued,” he says. “I was pretty proud to be able to give it a heart transplant.”

Remembering an archer nonpareil
Matt Becker - For The Daily Iowan
Posted: 7/10/06
Dan Mattes died on Jan. 26, but his basement workshop suggests he was coming home at any time.

The remnants of his active lifestyle lie undisturbed. Twelve immaculately clean oars hang from the ceiling, and 11 archer's bows rest on pairs of hooks. Hundreds of arrows cover the wall, and his bow press fills the center of the room.

Standing in his sanctuary on July 6, his widow, Christine Mattes, and two close friends, Lois and Bill Burkett, couldn't help but cry. It was too soon. How can someone remember what they miss most about the person they love when they still can't believe he's dead?

They shouldn't be crying, though. Dan Mattes wouldn't have liked that, Christine Mattes said. What he did like, however, was archery. In fact, he loved it.

"Dan could take a Volkswagen of a bow and turn it into a Cadillac," said Bill Burkett, who knew Dan Mattes for more than 40 years.

On Sunday morning at the MacBride Nature Recreation Area, the Johnson County Archers held its first Memorial Dan Mattes Traditional Shoot to celebrate his contributions to the sport. By 10 a.m., the license plates of the parking lot's 20 cars (mostly pickups, with a few minivans for good measure) read "Black Hawk," "Cedar," "Washington," and "Fayette," among others. Dan Mattes had friends in every archery community in the state, Bill Burkett said.

The shoot was made up of 20 3-D faux animal targets, ranging from 10 to 28 yards away. A circle on the animal represented its "vitals," with a center shot earning 10 points, and the surrounding circle yielding eight. Hitting the animal anywhere else earned five points. The point system wasn't important, though - no trophies were handed out. Personal satisfaction was the only reward.

The weapon of choice was a long bow, as opposed to a compound bow. The pressure in long bows increases as the string is pulled back, while compound bows decrease in pressure as they are pulled back because the latter features a pulley at each end. Plus, long bows don't have scopes.

"Long bows are all instinct," Lois Burkett said.

Dan Mattes worked on long bows all the time. Compounds, too. He lived and breathed archery, his wife said. His first foray into archery assistance began shortly after the Whitetail Bowmen of Iowa City was created in the mid-1960s. He used to make his own arrows and his own string, Bill Burkett said. He even worked on bows for outdoor goods retailer Fin & Feather. He seemed to know everything about archery.

"If someone had a question, eventually that question would get around to Dan," Bill Burkett said. "And he could always answer it."

He was more than just knowledgeable. He gave advice freely, and he sold archery materials for face value, not charging for labor, Bill Burkett said.

In 1998, Dan Mattes was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but he never complained, Christine Mattes said. Cancer be damned, he never stopped doing what he loved. Even with his health failing, he worked as hard as his body would allow, sweating as he carried 3-D targets throughout the archery course. After the Whitetail Bowmen became defunct 15 years ago, the Johnson County Archers was created nearly six years ago by Frank Dolezal, a retired Iowa City firefighter who had known Dan Mattes since the early 1970s. 

With a necklace of bear bones, a camouflage hat, and a variety of tools fastened to his belt, Dolezal looked every bit the hunter that he is. He knew Dan Mattes at the end, when his prostate cancer spread into his bones, when he moved back to Iowa City for his final four months to be with his friends. 

"As far as I'm concerned, he was kind of the hub of the archery range up here," Dolezal said.

When Dan Mattes died, there was no funeral. He left behind two sons from a previous marriage, five grandchildren, hundreds of friends, and Christine Mattes.

At 52, she has silver streaks of gray around her ears, but the rest of her hair is dark brown. On Sunday, her thick, brown boots, and sleek frame suggested she was more an athlete than a widow. 

Christine Mattes is tough, but after 18 years of marriage, Dan Mattes is more than just a memory. Around her neck dangled a heart-shaped locket, filled with his ashes. Just as after his death, there was no ceremony for him at the shoot. 

"You can't shoot when you're crying," Christine Mattes said.

Iowa City Press Citizen
Saturday, August 7, 2004
By Ryan Suchomel

Johnson County Archers look to bag ‘animals’

In the woods north of North Liberty, you can stalk a grizzly bear or a mountain lion.
At the Johnson County Archers’ 3-D shoot today and Sunday, however, there is no fear of retaliation, just humiliation… that is, if you miss the target and your friends stand behind you, snickering.
“It’s kind of like golf in that way,” JCA president Chris Hayes said. “You usually go out with some buddies, usually five or six.”
The JCA is hosting the third of four yearly 3-D shoots this weekend for both club members and the public. Like golf, you provide the equipment – in this case a bow and arrows – and the JCA prepares the course.
Held at the University of Iowa McBride Nature Recreation Area off Mehaffey Bridge Road, the 3-D shoot is on a wooded trail with different “animals” set p at various intervals.
The goal is to hit the animals as close to the bull’s eye as possible. The closer you are, the better you score.
“It is basically a big foam animal,” Hayes said. “Anything from elk, buffalo, caribou to raccoon, skunk, fox, and plenty of deer. We’ve got a grizzly bear, a standing black bear and strutting and gobbling turkeys.”
While many members of the JCA are hunters honing their skills for the upcoming bow seasons in the fall and winter, there are also plenty of archers who just enjoy the challenge of target shooting.
“We’ve seen an increase in youth and also women,” Hayes said. “Quite a few people within our membership have gotten their wives or kids involved in it. It’s a good thing to do with your family. It gets you outdoors.”
The JCA has come a long way in a short time. In 2000, there wasn’t an archery club in the area. The old club, “The Whitetail Bowmen” had discontinued years before.
Frank Dolezal decided to gauge the interest of starting something new and got a strong response. The Johnson County Archers started with about 40 members and now has about 150.
“There was no other club close to us,” said Bill Heitzman, JCA vice president. “It was right up my alley. I’m big into bow hunting and used to go to 3-D shoots every weekend.”
The newly formed club began putting in the work to reshape the archery range and by 2001, had it up and going again. Since then, the club has built a shooting platform and storage shed, and has plans to start an introduction to archery course next spring.
“We’ll let people come out and we’ll have bows available,” Hayes said. “They’ll be able to shoot and see if they like it.”
Once you have decided to take up archery, the first thing you have to do is outfit yourself with a bow. It is important to get a bow that fits the person. An individual’s size and strength will determine how hard the pull is and how big the bow is.
After that, the complexity of your bow is up to you. Many hunters use compound bow that have mechanical wheels.
“It all depends on the level you want to do,” Hayes said. “If you throw sights and all other gadgets on it, it gets pretty close to shooting a rifle. OR you can just get a long bow and apply the ages-old skill of putting a stick into a target.”
The cost car range from $50 for a used bow to upwards of $900 for the latest tricked out model.
But can come in handy when trying to do some of the trick shots the JCA members set up. One is trying to skewer ping pong balls floating on a cushion of air.
And unlike target shooting with a rifle or shotgun, it’s a much quieter hobby.
“It’s something you can do in town, unlike shooting a gun,” said Heitzman. “You can shoot your bow in the basement if you want. I shoot mine in the garage.”