Shooting arrows in Pasadena


Antony Francisco

Practicing form after class

Shaye Holladay McCarthy, Yearbook Writer

If you go to Lower Arroyo Seco Park on any Saturday before noon you will hear the sound of arrows being launched off bowstrings and cardboard being penetrated or balloons popping. When you arrive, there is a hill you have to go down if you don’t want to park in the streets.

The area is mostly desolated, but you will see a bit of greenery from trees and bushes. The only other massive object besides the benches and signs is the shed where the bows and arrows are stored until classes on Saturday at the Pasadena Roving Archers.

Carolyn Gruss, physics teacher Gerald Gruss’s daughter, used to shoot at the Pasadena Roving Archers and was part of the Junior Olympic Archery Development Program (JOAD’s). Her interest in archery was started because her mother did archery in high school and she wanted to try it herself, Mr. Gruss said.

Archers practice speed pull after volley.
Antony Francisco
Archers practice speed pull after volley.

Carolyn started shooting four to five years ago. Like most of the archers, she shot a recurve bow, but her training fell under Olympic recurve as she was part of the development program at the range. Carolyn Gruss is one of the 20 million archers to participate in this sport.

Considering archery is a sport, there is a lot less movement and running than there is for most other sports. When you dance, strength is from your legs. Archery is a sport where strength comes from your back muscles. When you actually engage your back muscles, you have a longer draw, adding more strength and speed to the arrow.

As an Olympic sport, archery appeared in the second Olympics which took place in Paris in 1900. After the 1900 appearance, the sport wasn’t shown again until 1904, 1908 and 1920. After 52 years of not being in the Olympics, archery made its comeback in 1972 and hasn’t been excluded since then.

Along with being a sport in the Summer Olympics, it was also a sport at the Summer Paralympics. Despite all the different styles of shooting, the only style of shooting allowed is barebow recurve. The original two events in archery was the men’s individual and women’s individual. In the 1998 Summer Olympics, the team competition was added and the Grand FITA Round format was used.

The Pasadena Roving Archers has a program to develop the skills of younger archers if they have an interest in shooting competitively. The program is  known as the Junior Olympic archery development program.

You want to start with simple goals like all your arrows in the target and it doesn’t matter where they land as long as they’re out of the hay,”

— Aung San

When I approached Coach Brian Seagrave to ask about tournaments I should participate in as a beginner, he said that when you want to start shooting competitively the 300 round is the best way to start. The style of a 300 round is casual and you’re only competing against yourself.

I took his advice, and on Sept. 11 I went to take part in my first 300 round. Coach Seagrave said that he enjoys being an archery instructor because it gives him an opportunity to meet hundreds of archers each week and help shape their experience. “Archery is one of the safest sports in the world because of all that strict rules that are implemented on the range,” Seagrave said.

We soon started to shoot the ten ends of arrows. There was a coach shooting at each bale to

help score the arrows before we retrieved them. With this style of competition, you are timed during each end to shoot three arrows in two minutes. The time frame may seem small as it is, but when you’re actually the person on the line shooting arrows,  you get enough time to rest between each arrow to maintain a consistent strength with each shot.

The very outer white ring is worth one point, and as the rings get closer to the center they increase

by one point each time, so the second white ring is worth two points. After the two white rings there are two black rings which are worth three and four points, then blue rings worth five and six points, red are worth seven and eight, and yellow is worth the most amount of points with nine and ten. Advanced archers will shoot at targets that have three different targets and they must hit each target once. You don’t have to strictly be competing in a tournament to score any shots you take. On days other than Saturday, you could

Shaye Holladay

score your own shots and try to improve.

When all ten ends were finished, and we got our arrows back, I spoke with my coach who was on the same bale as me. He told me that when you start shooting in competitions as a beginner you probably shoot better on Saturday. On Sept. 17 (Saturday) I was shooting much better and hitting the middle of the target. “The reason you shoot better on a regular Saturday is because you aren’t used to the stress of competing,” San said. “And the only way to get over the stress is to continue shooting in competitions.”  Ethan Chang, another archer who was competing, said, “I chose archery because the sport itself is interesting and requires a lot of concentration.” Ethan has been shooting at the range since he was six and is part of the youth archer program that the range offers.

Kim Johnson said that she likes to compete in competitions at the range because it’s a great way to see how much you have improved. “I’ve shot at the range for about three years and took the trad class during my second year at the range,” Johnson said.

After the competition was over at noon, Coach San called me over to talk about goal setting for a competitions. “You want to start with simple goals like all your arrows in the target and it doesn’t matter where they land as long as they’re out of the hay,” San said. That was easy to understand and fix. “Once all your arrows are consistently hitting the target, then start focusing on the colors individually to fine tune your shooting,” San said.

Archers ready to shoot from twenty yards
Antony Francisco
Archers ready to shoot from twenty yards

Awards are given out at the end of every 300 Round year for each division. The divisions are based on age, gender, what type of bow they shoot, and if there is any modification like a sight or stabilizer. If you want to compete to earn awards from the club, you must shoot at this competition at least five times during the competition year which resets on the first day of November.

“Ever since the release of the trilogy for The Hunger Games, the amount of younger archers coming to the range has increased greatly,” Coach Seagrave said. Seagrave said that the Pasadena Roving Archers has had a  complicated relationship with the City of Pasadena, though. “The range has had to fight the community to stay open and not be cleared out to make more space for pedestrians who visit  but don’t want to shoot,” Coach San said. Even with the challenges the range has faced, many Southern Californians continue to enjoy going to the range.

Carolyn Gruss, who began her years of archery at the Roving Archers, continues to shoot as an archer now that she is in college, using archery as her sport instead of P.E.  “Archery is a form of liberation from both my everyday life and as well as the stress of school,” Gruss said. “It gives me a sense of freedom for the mind and body.”