Arrow Slingers Unite at Archery Bow Range
Quick, what does a bull’s-eye, a stack of arrows, and the North Ave bus have in common? It’s the Archery Bow Range of course. So clever, you. Don’t let this unassuming warehouse of a building fool you. The range, which is nestled next to a pet store just north of Humboldt Park, offers clinics, one-on-one instruction, and open-shooting hours. And it welcomes people of all skill levels, from complete novices (like me) to competitive arrow slingers like Stephanie Miller, who is using the facility to train for the 2012 Olympics. You read that right. Don’t forget that name.
I spotted Miller when I went on a bathroom break from my time in the “beginners” 10-yard shooting range. She was nailing a target three times smaller than mine from more than twice the distance. Miller told me she loves it there not only for the laid back atmosphere but more importantly for simple logistics: this is the only indoor archery range in the city.
Head trainer and competitive shooter Bill Munsor said this is precisely why the Archery Bow Range opened last May from its mother branch, the Lincoln Park Archery Club.
“There are a few outdoor archery ranges around here, but people need an indoor option,” he said.
Munsor has been shooting competitively for eight years, but took up the sport when he was a kid in rural West Virginia. He credits his hunting father for introducing him to archery at an early age.
“You don’t have to be 6’3 or run a five-minute mile to excel in this sport,” he said. “You just have to have an open mind and a desire to improve.” That philosophy is felt in every corner of the Archery Bow Range. Everyone I met that night was there for different reasons and came with an array of skill levels.
In the 10-yard range where I shot was Michelle Millas, a soft-spoken lady who was just pursuing a new hobby. On my other side was Gary Wysher, there with two deer hunting buddies hoping to add the bow to their repertoire.
“I think I’ll stick to my rifle,” he joked after a few rounds. “No way I’m getting an eight point buck with my aim.” Neither would I. And I have the barren paper target hanging on my closet door to prove it.
Munson offers an experience for anyone. For the archery illiterate like myself there are introductory clinics that cost $20 per session. If you know the basics but need some sharpening, there are other clinics, leagues, and private lessons targeting intermediate skill levels. And, of course, the Robin Hoods of the city can join leagues for the more advanced.
You can, of course, bring your own equipment. But…wait… you don’t have a three-foot bow and arrow in your closet next to your 20-gauge rifle? Good luck when the revolution starts, Buck-O. But no worries; all the equipment you need can be rented for an additional five dollars.
And just as Munson says archery is not just for adults, neither is the range. Day camps are open for people eight to 18 years old. So no matter where your skill set falls, the Archery Bow Range is worth checking out.