Ellie Grass takes careful aim and releases on target.

Robin Hood, at least in movies, makes it look easy—nock an arrow, go to full draw release and, whoa, the arrow splits another arrow already squarely located in the bullseye.

Believe me, it ain’t that easy. I used to shoot with bow and arrows back when bows somewhat resembled the one Robin used, only with a few more recurves. It was a time when compound bows were just starting to be discovered.

What I like about archery is the quiet. The only noise is the twang of the string and the whisper of the arrow in flight. It can be competitive, but mostly, it’s between you and your eye, arm and body. A good shot hits the target; bad shots are forgotten after the next good shot. And you know whether they are good and bad shots instantly.

Archery was an occasional effort on my part, done with a few friends at outdoor targets—a box or straw bale—and occasionally at an indoor range with regular targets. It faded from my schedule because of time constraints and other interests, like work and family. But I revisited the sport this last month with the grandkids. I wish now I’d kept it up. It was one of those: “Do as I say, not as I do,’’ times.  

It was fun and they picked it up rather quickly.

But, archery is so much easier these days, due mostly to the compound bow with its pulleys and cables. Compounds came into the market in the 1960s and are now the choice of most archers for hunting or recreational shooting.


Compound bows with their cams and cables have made archery easier.

With the old recurves what you bought was what you pulled. Meaning, in my case, I bought a 55-pound recurve. So, I pulled at 55 pounds and anchored at 55 pounds, which typically meant that if I held an aim too long, my hand would get shaky.

Compounds work differently. The draw starts at, say, 55 pounds but midway through the draw the pull drops to anywhere between 11 and 20 pounds, depending on the bow, which makes it much easier to anchor and aim. And, of course, be more accurate. The arrow has all the force of the full 55 pounds, but requires much less work to shoot.

There are compounds on the market that have what they call 99 percent let-off, which would reduce the hold to less than a pound.

The importance of this is young shooters can draw and hold with little difficulty, making it easier to aim and shoot, and, as I found, easier to hit the target regularity.

Arrows have also evolved. Robin shot wooden arrows that were not always perfect. After wood came aluminum, fiberglass and then carbon fiber, which are lighter and fly at a high, flatter speed.

There are several archery ranges in Utah. I like the indoor ranges. I like compound bows. And, after being away for some time, I found it relaxing.

The range I chose was Utah Archery Center, 60 E. Gordon Ave., in Salt Lake City. 

The range is open noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Range fees are $8 with your own equipment, $10 using their bows and arrows.

Instruction, said range manger Christian Neff, comes with the range fees.


Christian Neff helps young shooter with the basics of shooting.

Indoor Ranges in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake Archery, 1130 Wilmington Ave., 801-486-8242

Bad Lands Bow Hunters, 2827 S. 2300 East, 801-487-3665

Utah Archery Center, 60 E. Gordon Ave, 801-263-7880

Full Draw Archery, 8385 Allen St., 801-996-8292