On a warm August afternoon a group of young women are out for a Chicago bachelorette party. Are they clubbing? Taking in some of Chicago’s famous fine dining? Partaking in a lovely river cruise?
They are at Archery Bow Range Chicago, taking turns shooting arrows at targets. It looks a bit odd to see a woman in a white veil shoot an arrow, but the group is having a grand time of things, congratulating bullseyes and playfully ribbing each other when the arrows go wide.
So why are the ladies here, of all places? Archery, it seems, is no longer a pastime reserved for hunters, Olympians and Renaissance Faire showmen. Due to popular films like The Hunger Games and The Avengers, which both feature some pretty hardcore, super-cool archers, archery has shaken off any stigma it once had and has become a sport of choice among the young.
“With the movies—that’s grabbing a lot of people,” says Bryan Lovely of Valparaiso, president of Deep River Bowmen. “I have more girl students than boys. They really like the target shooting.”
What’s appealing about archery is that it’s a sport that’s open to all. In fact, thanks to the Archery in the Schools Program (which has chapters in Indiana, Illinois and Michigan), more and more children are learning this craft, Lovely says.
Classes are popping up everywhere for beginners. The classes generally teach the basics; after that, you’re free to rent time (much like you would at a shooting range) and just practice your skills. For many people this culminates in “league play,” where archers compete in the “game” of archery. Most places have bow rental, but if you get serious about it, you can buy your own bow from local sports shops, like Gander Mountain or Bass Pro Shop.
“Archery is an ageless sport,” says Mike Tichenor of Valparaiso, lead secretary for the Deep River Bowmen. “Any age group, any fitness level, can really enjoy the sport. And it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg to participate. It’s something the whole family can participate in together and you’re not going to break the budget doing it.“