Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, area unions cut ribbon on new Leroy D. Braungardt Archery Complex

UNIONS, FAMILY and Missouri State Parks officials cut the ribbon June 22 on the new Leroy D. Braungardt Archery Complex at Cuivre River State Park in Troy, Mo. – Labor Tribune photo


Troy, MO – Missouri State Parks officials, union volunteers and the Braungardt family cut the ribbon June 22 on the new Leroy D. Braungardt Archery Complex at Cuivre River State Park.

Braungardt was a Missouri state representative who helped craft at pass Missouri’s parks and soils tax. A union electrician, he was also an avid outdoorsman and believed to be the first hunter in Missouri to kill a turkey using a bow and arrow.

The range, built by union volunteers with the support of donations from local unions and area businesses, and spearheaded by the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance’s (USA’s) Work Boots on the Ground program, features five shooting lanes and 13 targets. Target lanes range from 10 to 50 yards with ADA-compliant concrete sidewalk access to all targets.

The USA’s Work Boots on the Ground program utilizes the power of skilled tradesmen and women for community service projects that improve public access to the outdoors, enhance wildlife habitat, restore America’s parks and educate future generations of sportsmen and women, said Sam Phipps, conservation programs manager for the alliance and a member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562.

“We had seven different trades involved in this, six different apprenticeship programs. Over 2,000 volunteer hours went into it,” Phipps said.

In addition to the volunteer hours, $9,000 was donated from different trades in materials and equipment, and USA donated $34,000 in materials from its Missouri State Conservation Dinner fundraiser to make the project happen. The total value of the project came to about $150,000.

Participating unions and Labor organizations in the archery range project included:

  • Cement Masons Local 527.
  • Iron Workers Local 396.
  • Mid-America Regional Council of Carpenters.
  • Operating Engineers Local 513.
  • Midwest Painters District Council 58
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562.
  • Roofers Local 2.
  • Missouri Women in Trades (MOWIT) volunteers were also involved in the project.

“The main deal is just getting tradesmen and women involved and giving back to the communities, giving them a way to showcase and give back their skills,” Phipps said. “We do dock projects, archery ranges, youth mentorship and outreach, youth fishing events, youth archery events and similar programs. Really, the sky is the limit. Anything that is going to enhance public access to the outdoors, that’s what we do.”

Jeff Caputo, apprentice instructor with Cement Masons Local 527, said the project provided a way to give third-year apprentices real world experience

“This was all done with our apprentices,” Caputo said. “It was on-the-job training and good for the community. You get on-the-job training and real world experience.

“You can’t teach this in the classroom. It’s great to be out in the field and doing it, and teaching them the right way. Everything is handicapped accessible. It’s all within two percent ADA. That’s what they wanted, and we gave it to them.

“Our apprentices did good work. They worked hard on this project, and they did good. They all learned something and that’s the key. They learned how to lay stuff out and how we do stuff.”

John Buchholz, assistant director of the Painters District Council 58, said the whole school was involved in the project.

“We had some apprentices out here, instructors, pretty much everybody from the whole school, was involved,” he said. “We did the staining. The Iron Workers dropped off the steel at the apprenticeship school and we prepped it. Put some epoxy on there, urethane. Everybody enjoyed it. It was great to be a part of it.”

John O’Mara, business manager of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562, said the union offered financial assistance for the project and several members volunteered their time to help out.

“Sam’s been a great part of our organization, and he’s doing a cool job here too. We help him out. They do neat things for communities all over town.”

Joe Gipson, apprentice instructor for Operating Engineers Local 513, said they had about 30 apprentices on the project and put in about 550 hours in work time from instructors and apprentices.

“The apprentices did the work, we just instructed them and helped them along,” Gipson said. “I was proud of our apprentices. They nailed. They were safe, they worked productively. This was a job site for them.”

“That’s what we do,” said Apprentice Coordinator Joe Wallace.

“We train apprentices to be safe, qualified and efficient. And they did it here.”

Greg Combs regional director for Eastern Missouri Region of Missouri State Parks, thanked the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance and the participating unions for making the archery complex a reality.

“We’re extremely excited about opening the Leroy Braungardt Archery Complex here at Cuivre River,” Combs said. “None of this would be possible without our partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance. I want to personally thank Mr. Sam Phipps for his vision. He came to us with this idea. We crafted an agreement and he solicited a lot of partners and I want to thank each of those partners today.”

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