In 2008, Suzanne Collins introduced the world to a young female warrior named Katniss Everdeen. In The Hunger Games, Everdeen was a symbol of the misunderstood underdog who exuded bravery and housed some major badass skills. One of those skills included the use of a bow and arrow to take down her enemies or hunt for food. Since the book, and eventually the movies, became popular I have been obsessed with the thought of archery. I figured there were others who were intrigued by this pastime and went on a search, which led me to Westbank Archery and 504 On Target.
One afternoon, a few of the Renaissance Publishing editors made our way to the 504 On Target facility to unleash our inner Katniss. The look of the building does not prepare you for what you will find in the shooting area. It’s as if a hunting lodge was placed in the middle of a hollowed out office building in the middle of the Westbank. An all-wood structure sits in the center of the main room, surrounded by owner Chad Daigle’s other business ventures, including Westbank Archery. Deer, boar and other animal trophies line the walls, and sitting areas surround the range, making for a perfect spot to catch the multitude of tournaments and events held at the facility.
Daigle explained the five different types of bows: recurve, horseback bow, longbow, compound bow (what we would be using) and crossbow (a la Joffrey Baratheon). The compound bows we used had the option for all the bells and whistles you wanted, with the bow being able to grow with the archer as they become stronger. He continued with an explanation of the parts of a compound bow, as well as the important calls and commands heard when in the range. “The range is hot,” we were told, meant that no one should step in front of the shooting line while archers were knocking a bow and aiming at the target. “Archers make ready,” signaled to the archers to prepare an arrow.
Daigle was excellent at showing us how to hold the bow properly, position our stance and correct our errors once we shot an arrow. For a man who hunts and works constantly in the outdoors, he’s extremely patient and makes any visitor feel at ease, even the youngest ones. As I readied my bow and prepared to shoot, I felt the bowstrings leave my hand and completely missed the target. Daigle still offered words of encouragement. And after a few more frustrating attempts, I eventually shot my arrow into the center ring around the bull’s eye. I left the range feeling satisfied with my quick progress and ultimately empowered.
Daigle and 504 On Target offer birthday parties, private lessons and family deals. The range is also open to the public, but archers must bring their own equipment.
If you’re looking to gain confidence, try something new, and even potentially take out some anger on an unknowing target paper, archery is a fun and interesting way to do so. Stick with 504 On Target and you’ll give Katniss Everdeen a run for her money in no time.
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