A fair number of kids who see Brave or The Hunger Games end up curious about archery, and a fair number of their parents end up scratching their heads and saying, "Where do we do that??" Gymnastics, swimming—that's easy. But where to bring a would-be archer to string a bow and shoot some arrows? Less obvious, perhaps, but not as hard as you might think. And the even better news? It's usually free!
One of the great things about archery is that anyone can do it, at almost any age and any size, making it a great sport for parents and kids to learn together. Film star Geena Davis took up the sport in her 40s and found herself at the Olympic trials two years later—so no excuses, Mom! And if you have one of those kids who'd rather sit inside with Lord of the Rings or World of Warcraft, this is a great way to lure the warrior outdoors. Also, no need to take the plunge with equipment before there's a committed archer in the family; the clubs below are happy to share their bows and arrows while young archers test the waters.
Woodley Park Archers
6350 Woodley Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91436
Saturdays and Wednesdays
Woodley Park Archers share what they know for free in beginners' classes from 9-11am Saturdays and 6-8pm Wednesdays (except during rain). Equipment use is free during class time. Students must be at least nine years old. A registration form is available online, and having this prepared in advance makes the first visit go more smoothly. These classes are popular; the club recommends arriving at least an hour early.
Pasadena Roving Archers
Lower Arroyo Seco Park
415 S. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105
First class free
Pasadena Roving Archers have been firing arrows into hay bales in Pasadena's Lower Arroyo Seco Park since 1935. Beginners are invited to try their hand at the bow in beginners' classes offered Saturdays from 8 to 10am; advance registration is required and no walk-ups are accepted. Students are asked to arrive no later than 7:30am to be fitted for equipment. The first class, and use of the equipment, is free; subsequent classes are $10. A tip: the range can be hard to find without checking the map and directions.
Conejo Valley Archers
Conejo Valley Archers Public Session Range facility
4651 Tapo Canyon Road
Simi Valley, CA 93063
$5 range fee donation per person
The Conejo Valley Archers provide an open public archery session every Saturday from 9am to 1pm, rain or shine (unless preempted by special events). Families interested in the sport can start with the basics in sessions led by USA Archery-certified instructors and coaches. All equipment is provided. In the interest of safety, children must be at least eight years old to participate.
El Dorado Archers
El Dorado Park
7550 E. Spring St.
Long Beach, CA 90815
$5 equipment fee
Long Beach has its share of armed warriors, and they sling their arrows at El Dorado Park on Saturday mornings. The beginners' class starts at 10:30am, and the more advanced folks start firing their bows at 9am. The first session is a mandatory safety class held at 11:30am, and since this class is limited to 15 participants, early arrival is recommended. Children are welcome starting at age eight, including Boy Scouts seeking the archery merit badge.
Mile Square Regional Park Archery Range
16801 Euclid St.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708
714-973-6600 or 714-973-3197
Free by advance reservation
Beginning archery classes include the use of equipment. The 6.71-acre redesigned range, the largest of its kind in Orange County, features 24 in-line shooting stations beneath a continuous metal shade canopy, perimeter fencing, and a 20-foot safety berm. The park does have a parking fee of $3 per vehicle entry Monday-Friday and $5 Saturday-Sunday (may be higher for some holidays and events).
Finally, Los Angeles Archery recently reopened with a new facility at the Rancho Park Archery Range at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center. The renovated range still offers free introductory classes on Saturday mornings and one Sunday morning per month. Taking the free class includes use of equipment and two free practice sessions during open shooting, after which a modest annual membership allows for continued use of facilities and gear.
NOTE: Prices are accurate as of Spring 2018.
Find more great ideas for enrichment classes in our Los Angeles Classes Guide.
Top photo via Bigstock