What are you doing next Saturday morning? Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm. I see. Well let me tell you what you should be doing next Saturday morning. Shooting things with a bow and arrow. One of my absolute favorite “insider tips” for a great way to experience L.A. is the Rancho Park Archery Range in Cheviot Hills. What makes it so great? Because it combines enjoying the outdoors, being a part of Los Angeles history, the low low price of free, and its a lot of fun.
The Rancho Park Archery was initially founded to accommodate the 1984 Olympic Games held in L.A. Los Angeles won the opportunity to host the 1984 Olympics basically by default, which interestingly is also how I plan to someday win an Olympic event. At the time the only other city interested in hosting was Tehran but they had a lot going on at the time and backed out. Despite the fact that much of Eastern Europe was boycotting that year, the Olympics set a record at the time for most nations participating, and the archery course itself was the site of the first ever paraplegic olympian to compete when New Zealander Neroli Fairhall was the first paraplegic Olympian at any Olympic Games, coming 35th in the Women's individual event.
Now you too can become the greatest archer that you or your friends knows. Every Saturday morning at 11AM there are free introductory archery classes which include free use of the equipment. The class is basically a safety class with some actual shooting instruction. Once you have completed the class you are able to come back to the range and shoot during any of their open shooting times. According to the website they happen on Saturdays from 9:30am to noon, Sundays from noon to 3:30pm, and for the more experienced, Wednesdays from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.
There is no rental fee, which is great. However they do take donations which go towards the upkeep of the course. I recommend bringing a couple of bucks to alleviate any guilt or peer pressure you may feel when faced with 12 year olds who are not only better shots than you but who also put $5 in the donation box.
The archery course is located in the back of the park next to the bocce court (yet another reason for visiting). The mandatory introduction class starts at 11am on Saturday mornings, however, it fills up rapidly. The first time that I went, it was already full. I actually recommend getting there about an hour before the class starts and putting your name on the sheet. Once you’re on the list you can go play bocce, have a picnic brunch, or hang out at the park until the class starts.
You can find all of the information including, times, directions, and more at the LA archery blog.