Katniss from The Hunger Games, Hawkeye from The Avengers and London’s 2012 Olympic Archery Competition have all given the ancient sport of archery a jolt. Kids and adults across the country are smitten with the idea of using a bow to shoot an arrow.

A recent New York Times Fashion & Style article explores the trajectory of the sport given the cultural craze. From Staten Island to San Francisco, sales of kid-size recurve bows have more than quadrupled this year!

Whether you have a Robin Hood fan, a small Cossack (a kid into ancient weaponry) or you just love fun, free, urban family activities, you’ve got to check out the Golden Gate Park Archery Range in San Francisco when you’re visiting the city. It’s a beautiful and well-maintained piece of park real estate, near the beach. It’s easy to park and accessible by public transportation. It’s always open for folks with their own archery equipment. If you’re looking to try it out as an activity, you can swing by the nearby Archery Pro Shop, where you can sign up for lessons, rent or buy bows or investigate other equipment. You can also buy bows and arrows on-line.

Many folks first try out the sport at summer camp. My kids got a taste of it at Camp Mather, the San Francisco family camp, located near Yosemite, that is beloved by many city families. The setup at Mather was low-tech and we had a blast. We invested in bows and arrows and started learning about the sport.

The next summer on a visit to my in-laws’ home in a somewhat rural area on four acres on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, we built our own archery range. We bought a bale of hay for $8 at a local Feed Store and my kids made a target out of a giant poster board.

You do need space and oversight. Archers need to be at least 5-6 years old or have exceptional dexterity and listening skills. The range etiquette is vital, as safety is paramount.

On a recent, glorious, fall afternoon, with perfect pumpkin light, we made a family outing to the range in Golden Gate Park. There were quite a few free targets. Three other parties were there and the mood was genial. One guy handed out cards for another range down the coast near Pacifica, wanting to make sure we all knew about it (archery buffs are quite passionate about their sport).

There are often Community College and other classes held at ranges, so check out local options. We spent about an hour; all shot a few rounds, and the kids left with smiles across their faces and rosy cheeks.

Filed Under Books, Budget Travel, California, Camping, Family Travel, Olympic Peninsula, Olympics, San Francisco, Urban Parks, Yosemite


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