By Emily G. Peters
Nostalgia is a kind of magic, rekindling everything from faded music genres to baby names. So predictable is society’s need to revisit the past that what was fashionable decades ago regularly resurfaces every twenty years or so. But what happens when nostalgia goes further into our human history—all in an attempt to revive something thousands of years old?
Meet Pasadena Roving Archers. Wholly operated by volunteers, this nonprofit is devoted to mastering (and celebrating) the art of the bow and arrow to keep the sport alive for modern-day archers.
“I started arching in 2015 when zombies were a big thing, kind of as a joking challenge for myself, like, ‘I’m gonna need skills for the zombie apocalypse,’” said Lauren Kubota, Director of Public Relations for PRA and a fine archer in her own right. “I came across Roving Archers and found it was the only place that did a free introductory course for first-time archers. The club also runs a returning archers program for those who want to try, but not purchase a ton of equipment. A volunteer helped me enroll in some of the classes—and I went almost every single weekend after that.”
The club meets in Pasadena’s Lower Arroyo at an archery range that’s open to the public, yet maintained by the Pasadena Roving Archers as part of the city’s recreation program. Free beginner classes every Saturday and frequent tournaments have attracted up to 300 full-time members and 10,000 participating archers every year—with the club’s brand of archery an especial draw.
“Roving archery is a little more like golf: you move from target lane to target lane with changes in scenery, target type and elevation. Our club is one of the oldest clubs that helped develop the sport of roving archery, and for more experienced archers, we’re one of the few roving ranges that’s public in the area,” explained Kubota. She also lauded the club’s commitment to grooming archers in a community environment.
“The primary appeal of our club is that we run education programs for beginners—not just first-time classes, but classes every step of the way to up your game. Very few archery clubs do that,” she said. “We have a huge community of archers who pass down their knowledge of equipment, competition rules and norms of the sport—it’s almost like a secret code.”
The nonprofit’s history is almost as storied as the sport it teaches. Evidence of archery in the Lower Arroyo dates before 1770, and in 1885 efforts began to preserve the Arroyo as a wilderness park to ultimately pave the way for the Roving Archers in 1935. Even silver screen greats like Errol Flynn have prowled the Arroyo with a bow on their back—the ideal location to preserve a skill thousands of years in the making.
“It’s amazing to tap into something humans all over the world have been doing for centuries, and we’re so glad to be able to keep the history of archery alive in the Arroyo—it’s just a beautiful, historical part of Pasadena,” said Kubota. “Once you see it, it’s pretty magical.”
Pasadena Roving Archers is located in the public archery range at 415 S. Arroyo Blvd. in Pasadena. For more information, contact Pasadena Roving Archers at www.rovingarchers.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | (626) 460-5020 and follow along on Facebook and Instagram @pasadenarovingarchers.