Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ordinance Blocks Tularean's Arrow

Paralymic archer warned about practicing in street.

Archer Jeff Fabry, 35, at home in Tulare Monday with his son Joseph, 2, has won many medals and will be heading to Beijing to compete in the Paralympic games. (TERESA DOUGLASS)

But on Monday, he encountered an unexpected hurdle in his way — a Tulare city parks ordinance that police believe may forbid him from practicing at home — with the Paralympics about two weeks away.
Fabry, who lost his right arm and leg in a motorcycle accident in 1988, picked up archery 10 years ago. For the past eight years he has practiced in the driveway of his central Tulare home, sometimes venturing across the street to increase distance.
So when a Tulare police officer told him Monday morning he couldn't practice in his driveway or from across the street directly into his driveway, he and his family were surprised.
"[The officer] said I need to stop shooting because it's against city ordinance and if I continue I could be arrested," said Fabry, who added that intrigued officers even have stopped to watch him practice in the past. "For this to happen is just ridiculous."
He holds numerous titles, both as a Paralympic archer and in the regular archery circuit. He won two bronze medals at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. He has won three Paralympic World Championships and holds numerous national and state able-bodied archery records.
It's 22 yards from Fabry's target to the end of his driveway, he said. Backing up to the opposite side of the street gives him a 42-yard shot to the target, which is enclosed on three sides in his garage.
"You shoot 70 meters in the competition," Fabry said. That's roughly 78 yards, he said.
Tulare Police Capt. Wes Hensley said the reason Fabry has been able to practice from the street so long is that no one had filed a complaint until Monday, which then required further research. Police did not release the name of the person who filed the complaint.
Ordinance cited
Tulare ordinance 8.36.170, which Tulare police have referenced in Fabry's matter, states: "No person other than peace officers in the discharge of their duties shall use, maintain, possess, fire, or discharge any firearm, airgun, bow and arrow, sling shot or any other weapon potentially dangerous to wildlife or human safety except in areas, at times and under conditions designated by the Director for such use."
However, the code police referenced is listed as a city park ordinance, so it's unknown how it applies to homes or streets. ("Director" in the code likely refers to the head of the city's park and recreation department.)
On Monday afternoon, Hensley said he doesn't know if Fabry's use of his bow and arrow in his own driveway is against the city ordinance or not.
"I need to get a hold of the city attorney to find out," the police captain said. As of Monday evening the matter had not been decided. A call made by the Advance-Register to city attorney Steve Kabot's office after business hours did not reach the attorney.
Beijing awaits
Fabry plans to leave Tulare on Aug. 31 for the Olympic Training Center in Colorado before leaving for China.
Fabry's father-in-law, Leon Snow, said Tulare should give Fabry more encouragement and support — as it has for its Olympians from the 1940s and 1950s.
"This town got behind Bob Mathias. They got behind Sim Iness. But my son, who's shooting in the Paralympics, they can't get behind him?" Snow said.
Fabry's neighbor, retired teacher Ron Parr, said he has no problem with Fabry practicing in his own driveway or even from across the street.
"He is the most careful and conscientious person when it comes to his shooting," Parr said. "I am proud to be his neighbor because he is an Olympic champion. It's an honor."
Fabry said the situation may lead to a drastic decision. "If I can't shoot here at my house, I will probably move to another city where I can do my job," he said.

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