Armed with bows ranging from highly sophisticated design products to rudimentary sticks with nylon strings, the Santa Cruz Archers roam the hills of DeLaveaga Park, unbeknownst to the neighboring golf and disc-golf course visitors.
The club was founded in 1968 and pledges to “foster, expand and perpetuate the practice of field and target archery and the spirit of good fellowship among all archers.” By offering quick start-up lessons and lending out equipment in exchange for donations, all in good humor and with great generosity, this is exactly what happens during an archer’s afternoon on the range.
Randy Redmond has been shooting for over 40 years, and if you head to DeLaveaga during public hours, chances are he’ll be the one taking care of you.
He’ll get you started in about five minutes with the basics.
“Stand up straight, just like your mother taught you,” Redmond instructed. “The basics are what it’s all about. Now I want you to do that exact thing, forever.”
And don’t worry about not owning a bow and arrows.
“We won’t rent out the equipment,” said club president Henry Bertram, “but we’ll let you borrow some.”
Five-year-old Daisy Delaney uses a compound bow, which makes the bow lighter and therefore easier for her to shoot. She never misses the target.
Her father, David Delaney, said he was a member of the archery club “years and years ago. My whole family was.” And indeed, the main building is dedicated to a Delaney, David’s father, who helped build it. Although it’s been a while since David has visited the range regularly, he and Daisy are getting back into it.
Back inside the Delaney building, a handful of UC Santa Cruz students are learning how to shoot.
“It’s a lot of fun,” fourth-year Erin Nolan said, “but definitely challenging. I want to come back and go out on the range, see how well I fare out there.”
This class, a quarterly event, is sponsored and organized by UCSC’s Office of Physical Education and Recreation (OPERS).
The OPERS archery trips fill out fast, said Nolan, and she tried to get in for many quarters. “This was my last chance, and it was worth it. I really recommend it to anyone who wants to take a few hours out on their Saturday to learn to shoot.”
Many of the club members will be going back with sore arms from carrying the bows, some even with bruises from where the taut string stuck their elbows.
Club president Bertram was teaching the class.
“Come back and check out the range,” he said to the group. “It’s a nice walk, but it’s even nicer if you’re carrying a bow and arrow.”
The club encourages donations, with a suggested amount of $3 if you come to learn and borrow.
Although a Santa Cruz park, the range is entirely built and maintained by club members.
“In the last couple of years, we have had a fantastic group of people who come by and work hard to maintain the range,” Bertram said.
Inside the “animal shed” lays an array of tools and paint buckets alongside foam cougars, elk and other animals, the biggest an impressive gorilla. They will be used in the upcoming event “Stick Bow in the Woods,” where 28 foam animals will be scattered as targets amid the old oaks and redwoods.
“It’s all for fun,” Bertram said. “You want bias? This is the best range in the area, no question. Go around, fling a few arrows, don’t tell the wife, and that’s all there is to it.”