The Archery Program at Bull Run in Centreville offers an introductory program every other weekend at its indoor shooting range.
The relaxed two-hour session covers the basics of shooting technique using an Olympic recurve bow. While some students may hit the bull's-eye in that first class, true mastery takes time and focus.
"This is a very quiet, still sport," says Ruth Rowe, a former Olympian who founded the program. Archers, as she puts it, are "learning to be aware of what’s inside. It's just you, the bow and the target. That's it."
That awareness does not come easily, as first-timers will find. Holding an eight-pound bow properly requires attention so exacting that my arms were shaking after just a few minutes. But there's satisfaction to be had, too, once you make that first successful shot.
Fair warning to parents wanting to chaperone their children to class: You may not escape without catching the bug. As Adam Bigbee watched son Ethan, 11, take aim, he found himself wanting to do more than just accompany him the next time around.
"It's physical but cerebral," Bigbee says, "and we can experiment without committing to a huge investment."
Recommended for ages 8 and older. $30.25 per session.
-- Helin Jung (March 21, 2012)