New indoor archery range opens inside YMCA in Medina

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Archery expert Merle Fredericks takes aim at a target in the new indoor archery range at the YMCA in Medina.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 2 March 2024 at 12:33 pm

MEDINA – Thanks to a local Christian sportsman, the Orleans County YMCA will now begin offering archery programs to school children and the public.

Merle Fredericks of Medina, an avid sportsman, founded Bow Bending Believers in 2003, shortly after retiring from as the Orleans County sheriff. The chapter is part of the national Christian Bowhunters of America, and sponsors 3-D shoots, hunts and game dinners.

Last year, Fredericks approached YMCA director Jesse Cudzilo and asked if part of the facility could be used for an indoor archery shooting event for kids. The event took place last March with 20 kids from the community, who got to shoot bows and arrows, shared the Gospel and were treated to pop and pizza.

“We got such good feedback, we started thinking about converting the (former) armory’s indoor rifle range to an indoor archery range,” Fredericks said.

He spent $5,000 of his chapter’s money, along with other donations from MAAC and the community to transform the space into an archery range. Local contractor and painter Steve Dieter was asked to paint the range, and he donated many hours of his time transforming the space. Nearly a year has been spent emptying, taking out debris and cleaning the space.

“It is a huge and miraculous transformation,” Fredericks said.

Orleans County YMCA director Jesse Cudzilo, left, and archery instructor Merle Fredericks are standing in the archery range, after nearly a year of cleaning, clearing out debris and painting.

Beginning March 14, they will begin a program with fourth- to 12th-graders who can learn archery, participate in competitions and then take part in a free Bible study for eight consecutive weeks. The top three in the competitions will be recognized with a prize or trophy. The program is part of the National Archeries in School Program/Centershot Archery in the Churches.

Cudzilo said it is time to put the “Christian” back in the YMCA, and he is thrilled to be able to partner with Fredericks and his Bow Bending Believers.

“Partnerships are the key to success,” Cudzilo said. “With people working together, we are all better.”

On Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, the archery range will be open to the public. Archers/bowhunters are invited to come and hone their skills or learn how to shoot bow and arrow.

“We are very thankful and grateful to Jesse for giving us the opportunity to offer this archery ministry at the Y,” Fredericks said.

He said they hoped for a minimum of 12 participants for their eight-week session and 15 have already signed up. They are capping admission at 15 for this initial run, but plan to have several more eight-week courses a year.

The Thursday night, open sessions will be free, but going forward, participants will need to join the YMCA to use the archery range. Plans are not yet finalized, but Cudzilo may offer a discounted membership for those who just want to use the archery range.

More information is available by calling the YMCA at (585) 798-2040 or Fredericks at (585) 765-2839.

Fredericks has always been interested in bowhunting, and he and his wife Mitzi are both New York State Certified Bowhunting Instructors. His goal is to eventually offer bowhunting education courses. Fredericks chapter is located 2423 Oak Orchard River Rd., Medina.

Provided photo: This is what the former rifle range at the Medina Armory looked like when Merle Fredericks started transforming it into an indoor archery range.