Whitney Craig’s young son is a champion when it comes to shooting bow and arrow.
The Socastee youth has participated in the National Archery in the School Program for five years, and is second best in the state in his division.
But if the Horry County Council passes an ordinance that limits the shooting of firearms, her son will no longer be able to practice in his backyard of the Bridge Creek subdivision.
A bow and arrow is not considered a firearm, Craig told council members Tuesday during the Public Safety Committee meeting.
“It does not discharge explosives, and they are listing a bow as a firearm,” Craig said.
It’s not just all of the children in Horry County who participate in archery programs who would be affected by the backyard ban, but it could affect tourism as well, Craig said.
“Are you aware that we are set to host the world archery tournament in 2018, that brings thousands of archers to the Myrtle Beach area?” Craig asked the council.
“That means we have one range where bow and arrow hunters or sport shooters can go and shoot. If you bring thousands to the Myrtle Beach area and you put locals and archers there to shoot, it’s not big enough. So, where would they have practice during that time they are here for a tournament?” Craig said.
The ordinance under consideration makes exemptions to actual events for firearms, but says nothing about target shooting practice for competition.
The new rules were revealed during the meeting where council members appeared to be in general agreement with the draft ordinance aimed at preventing careless shooting in unincorporated Horry County.
The regulations would prohibit the discharge of a firearm, the definition of which includes a bow, anywhere that would allow ammunition to land on someone else’s property and endanger life or property.
It also prohibits the discharge of a firearm within a 900-feet radius of a home, school, park or public building.
The punishment for breaking the ordinance is up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
The issue was initially raised as a safety problem, but councilmen says it’s also a noise issue that should be noted in the ordinance.
“If I’m within 100 feet, it’s a noise problem,” said Mark Lazarus, Horry County Council chairman. “To me, it’s irritating.”
Lazarus said he has received numerous complaints from county residents who are roused from sleep at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. from gunfire.
“And that’s a problem,” Lazarus said.
The proposed ordinance will now also read that it is intended to address noise concerns as well as wayward projectiles.
At the suggestion of Councilman Cam Crawford, archery and compound bows would be removed from the definition of firearms, but Lazarus said crossbows should still be included.
Craig was somewhat satisfied, but said that crossbows should also be exempt from the new rules.
“I’m not really happy about that,” she said after the meeting. “You would still use it for target practice to sight your bow in before going hunting, to make sure that everything is the way it needs to be so that you kill your game,” Craig said.
“It’s a sad day that you have to propose something because some people take things to a level that is unsafe,” Craig said. “Part of it I agree with; most of it, I do not agree with.”
The ordinance will go before the full council for consideration on Feb. 21, a second reading on March 7, with final passage expected in April.