Tuesday, May 11

Shooting, Archery, and Deadly Projectiles in Jacksonville

archery jacksonville florida

I received an email from a reader who had a question about bow shooting in Jacksonville. The reader had probably done research online before contacting me, and my own research led to likely the same conclusions, but I figured it was worth finding out. Here's the email:
"I live in a residential neighborhood in Jacksonville city limits. I found
out my neighbor has been target practicing with a compound bow in his back yard. I found this out when his target was missed and his arrow came thru my fence into my back yard. Is it legal to shoot a compound bow in the city limits?"

 From my own research, I found that (in general) Florida is very reactionary rather than proactive when it comes to laws about firearms or projectiles. Jacksonville did not have any specific bow or archery laws I could find, and Florida's are vague at best, focusing on "firearms" rather than all missile-launching weapons

Hate to say it, but your neighbor probably CAN practice archery in his back yard. However, once his practice impedes on YOUR property, that's when Florida law can bust his chops. I know, this seems kind of stupid, since it makes more sense to protect you BEFORE something bad happens, but we like to protect all the stupid stuff people might do on their own property. 

Once this neighbor's arrow traveled onto your property, it became a 3rd degree felony, which could lead to a $5,000 fine, five years in prison, or both. A person can apparently shoot arrows all day on their own lot, but if it crosses the lot line, watch out! Literally, watch out, because it's not until it leaves the lot line that it's illegal. 

Also, once that arrow comes over your lot line at you, it's probably within your rights in Florida to stand your ground and shoot your neighbor dead. 

Of course, proving your neighbor shot the arrow might be difficult. When our dog got bit by a neighbor's dog, we would have needed two witnesses in order to have anything done. To actually get the city attorney to prosecute your neighbor, you'll probably have to have a witness other than yourself, a video showing it happen, and an arrow in your body. Which is why it makes more sense to either go inside your house and lock all the doors or shoot back. 

Also, if you register a complaint, even with the arrow in hand, and it does not lead to any real punishment, I am sure your neighbor will totally forgive you. He won't shoot flaming poop arrows onto your roof or launch beer cans at your windows. Nope, he'll just be glad you brought it to his attention. No hard feelings. Probably after you complain enough times and deal with enough counter-harassment, the neighbor might be considered a nuisance, unless he has friends in local government, of course.

It seems there might not be any way to deal with this neighbor, but that's not entirely true. Use the city assessor website to find out if this neighbor owns the house or rents. If it's a rental, then contact the company that rents to him, threaten that company, and he will be gone soon enough. If he owns and you have an HOA, it might be an issue that can be resolved through the neighborhood association. If you can figure out who his lender is, then you could also tattle to the bank, but it's probably more valuable to know the insurer on the house. Some of these cyber techniques might feel a little slimy or unethical, but just stalking the neighbor online to see if you have a common Facebook friend who could breach the subject is a classic use of technology. Before you do any of this, find out WHO the neighbor is and whether he has any aggravated assault convictions. 

If you want to go the passive-aggressive route, then a video surveillance yard sign might do the trick. Or even targets on the property line. You could also take up archery yourself, and then you might create a new friendship. Or take up golf in that general direction. 

Basically, I don't know the answer. I have two neighbors who have such loud mufflers that they wake us up, dozens of neighbors who park over the sidewalk and ruin our walks, a neighbor with an unleashed dog who bit mine, a neighbor who was running an unlicensed dental office out of his house, and probably dozens of neighbors with concealed weapons on them whenever I see them mowing the lawn (some of whom probably have sound-proof target ranges in their homes). I've even had a can of collard greens launched at my home (not here; in MKE), so I know how it feels. 

If someone reading this article was able to successfully thwart neighborhood archery practice in Jacksonville, please let me know so that I can be more useful. Please don't email me suggesting this reader just talk to the neighbor and express these concerns. We all know that was the first consideration, and we all know it's not going to work, even if you show up with one of those gag arrow-through-the-skull hats and a twelver of Icehouse.

{Side note: back when I was growing up in the 80s in Milwaukee, I had a neighbor who lived next door to us on a 45x120 foot lot who practiced archery from his side entrance back to the alley. Since alleys aren't a thing here, that's where all the kids play in many MKE neighborhoods. He also kept his howling hunting dog in a kennel all year long on his driveway. As a kid, I thought he was the cool neighbor with a sports car and hunting gear; as a dad, this kind of clown would terrify me.}

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Related Stories
 How to Get Your Nuisance Neighbors Out
 Is It Legal To Shoot My BB Gun In My Back Yard In Jacksonville?
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