Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be Robin Hood, Merida, or Katniss? Archery isn't the kind of sport that you can just do in your back yard or street corner (unless you live on acres of land). I've always wanted to try it, but never really got the chance until our recent trip to Manila. Archery and the Philippines aren't really two words that I associate with each other, but since discovering Arrowland, we've decided that every trip to Manila is going to include a visit to Arrowland for the chance to live out our Hunger Games dreams (just the archery part, not the killing tribunes part)!
Arrowland is a beginner's archery range located in SM Megamall in Ortigas, Metro Manila. It's easy to get to via public transportation, taxi, or private car. The best time to go is right when it opens (check hours, but it's usually 10:00AM) because the traffic, parking, and crowds will be lightest. The range is right beside the SM Megamall ice rink, on the 4th floor of the new SM trade mall building. I love that the range is indoors and air conditioned -- no need to deal with bothersome details like sweat and sunshine!
Beginners' arrow packages start from as low as P250 ($5). The base package gets you 25 arrows, which doesn't sound like a lot, but if it's your first time, you may want to stick with that because your arm will get achy and tired from holding up a bow. It took three of us almost 1 hour to shoot 25 arrows per person, but we probably took much longer than the average beginner archer because there were no crowds, so we took our time shooting and taking photos. I would allocate at least 30 minutes for those 25 arrows (which includes gear fitting and basic instruction).
Your package includes the use of a simple bow, arrows, and basic instruction. The instructor will show you how to stand and how to position your arms and face as you prepare to shoot. He or she will show you now to nock your arrows, aim, and fire.
Check out my form: left arm straight, right arm drawn back until my hand touches my chin, three fingers drawing back the string, left eye closed... all ready to hit that bulls-eye!
Well, okay, maybe I wasn't quite ready to hit that bulls-eye. The targets seemed so near, but it's much much harder than it looks! It's not easy to keep that bow steady, and the longer you try to hold your arm steady, the more it aches. It's even harder to keep the bow from moving once you let the arrow fly. A few of our arrows missed the target altogether and hit the wall or ground!
The instructor lets you shoot about 12 arrows at a time. Once you have used up all the arrows in the quiver, you have to wait until everyone has done the same, or until the instructor makes everyone on the range stop shooting arrows. Then the instructor goes with you to the targets and teaches you how to remove the arrows from the target board.
Arrowland is big on safety rules, which is obviously a good thing because accidents can happen and with archery, they can have serious consequences. The rules are clearly marked: no stepping beyond the yellow line that marks the beginning of the range, absolutely no shooting arrows if you see someone on the range, no drawing bows unless you are facing the target boards, etc...
One Arrowland tip: It's worth purchasing your own target sheet for an additional P40 (80 cents). Otherwise you'll have to use the generic target sheets which already have lots of holes, which makes it difficult to remember where your arrows landed. When you purchase your own target sheets, you start with a fresh sheet and you get to take them home with you, so you an add up your scores at leisure. The target sheets also make a fun souvenir.
Archery at Arrowland is fast, easy, cheap and fun. It's a great way to spend some active time with friends, and I highly recommend it!