Stay on target with Indianapolis archery classes

Stay on target with Indianapolis archery classes

As one of humanity’s oldest weapon forms, archery has captured imaginations for thousands of years. One of the most enduring of all heroes, Robin Hood, famously showered Sherwood Forest in arrows, and in more recent years, archers exploded into the popular consciousness in everything from “The Avengers” to “The Lord of the Rings” to “The Hunger Games.”

Archery covers a broad span of technology, from the traditional longbow Merida fires in “Brave” to the over-engineered compound bow Oliver Queen wields on “Arrow.” But the principles remain the same: one person, one bow, one target.

Aspiring Hawkeyes and Katniss Everdeens who want to take up the bow in the Indianapolis area have a variety of options, including several indoor ranges.

Jim Hasty, co-owner of Deer Track Archery in Anderson, Indiana, gives lessons at his shop for $25 an hour; participants must provide their own equipment.

“Concentration is utmost,” he says. “After you get to a certain point, it’s all about keeping form, but improving the mental aspect is very, very important.”

Pat Gary, manager at highly rated Outdoorsman Sport Shop in Greenwood, Indiana, says they charge $40 for half-hour lessons and $45 for one hour of equipment rental. “That way, once the lesson is over, you have 30 more minutes to keep shooting and put in place what you’ve learned,” Gary says. He gets a mix of adults and children interested in learning the ancient art.

Gary says he’s seen a resurgence in popularity in the past three years, thanks to mainstream culture and a renewed focus on archery in the last few Olympic games. “A lot more people are getting into it, especially women,” he says. “Far more than in past years.”

New archers are often in for a shock the first time they pick up a bow.

“On the one hand, people are surprised by how easy it is, and on the other, by how hard it is,” Gary says. “A lot of people think shooting will be much harder than it actually is. They might have tried their dad’s bow years ago and they remember how hard it was to pull.”

He says instruction and expert help makes all the difference. Draw length (the distance your arm has to travel to pull to full extension) and poundage (the amount of force required to pull it back) vary from bow to bow, and shooters will do best with a bow that matches their body size and strength. “Having the right bow set up for you makes a big difference on how easy it is to shoot,” Gary says.

Hasty says the sport exercises unique muscles. “I once asked a body builder what exercises archers could do to condition themselves for archery, and he said, ‘Shooting a bow!’” Hasty says. “There’s no other exercise you can do, other than shoot a bow, to build up those muscles.”

Hasty and Gary say all instructors place a special emphasis on safety, since archery can be dangerous without proper precautions. “We teach people to make sure the line is clear, never load an arrow in the bow if there’s someone downrange, and don’t load until you get the all-clear signal,” Gary says.

After the initial lessons, a wide array of possible activities await aspiring archers, such as conservation clubs, shooting leagues and competitions. Or you can approach it as casually as you desire. “If you just want to shoot some stumps, you just grab your bow and arrow, and out the door you go,” Gary says.

Archery equipment costs vary widely. Beginner kits can be purchased for less than $100, but higher-end equipment can cost several hundred dollars or more. Gary says once someone finishes a few lessons, they’re usually hooked: “I’ve never had someone complete three lessons and then bring their equipment back in to sell it, saying it’s not for them.”