When I first heard that an archery range would be opening in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn, I didn’t really know what to expect but I was just so curious to find out. The space is in one of the industrial spaces that still exist in Gowanus – and even though I had checked the address a million times before heading there, I was sure I must have gotten the street wrong. Until actually standing in front of Gotham Archery, there are no big signs – only a small beautiful wooden placard on a non-descript door.
I haven’t shot a bow since I was a little kid and didn’t know what to expect, so decided I needed a partner in crime for this adventure. I decided Eric needed to TAKE the class too, not just take pictures and so I booked us into Gotham Archery’s introductory class – required of everyone who wants to shoot on their range. Since we got there a little early, I got to hang out and check out the space. Gotham is a large open space with the ability to adjust how far away the targets are. For newbies like my group, that is pretty close but for the more advanced people, they could be MUCH further away. There were two guys who were shooting the length of the building but my favorite pair was the mother and son practicing together. His mom was good and he was talking about wanting to be like Katniss Everdeen and shoot a traditional bow…which I just loved. The little boy wanting to be the female hero is a win in my book.
On this rainy Saturday at 2pm, there were 14 of us in the intro class, most in pairs and then one large group of 6. We were broken up into 2 groups, our group of pairs went with Frank. He went over the basics of stance, of lane etiquette and how to stay safe on the archery range. Then it was off to get fitted for quivers, arm guards and finally, our bows.
There are two different types– the Olympic style “Recurve” and the “Compound” bow. The tall guys in the group had to use the “Recurve” but everyone else got to choose. Everyone chose the fancy compound bow, but just like the little boy earlier, I wanted the traditional bow. I mean, if it is good enough for Katniss and Olympians, that is the one I want.
The class is filled with a huge variety of skill level… from those who’ve never picked up a bow to those who had a LOT of experience. There were 2 guys in our group who were really experienced with shooting and were annoyed at having to listen to all of Frank’s awesome tips and guidance before actually firing an arrow but for the rest of us, it was exactly what we needed. After a half hour of instruction and set up, we were off.
For the next hour, we practiced trying to hit the bullseye. Frank said our goal was less the bullseye than to be able to group the arrows we did shoot. Eric, though, was a natural and could from the very beginning group his shots. I was bad at that part but towards the end got much more consistent! Improvement, is the goal always… but in the finally knockout round game, I was out immediately.
Best random Saturday adventure that I’ve had in a long time – I can’t wait to go back and shoot again…
But really, my favorite part of shooting at Gotham Archery? It made me feel like a total bad ass.
Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS