Aiming To Do Some Archery?


An archery range in Santa Cruz's DeLaveaga Park unleashes the armed kid in everyone.

Story and photos by Jennifer Karno

July 23, 2014—For 3 bucks, you and your family can spend an afternoon unleashing your inner Robin Hood fantasies in a Sherwood Forest right here within our own city limits.

Located in the heart of Santa Cruz, deep in DeLaveaga Park, lies a truly beautiful gem hidden inside a thick wooded forest. Here, Santa Cruz Archers manages both an indoor archery range and a 32-“hole” outdoor range accessible to families and bow enthusiasts of all ages. My son and I recently visited and saw a diverse assortment of people there, including a 75-year-old man and quite a few Hunger Games Katniss wannabes. It was inspiring to see first-time archers just learning the sport and practicing right next to some truly skilled sharpshooters.

Santa Cruz Archers has been around since 1968. The group’s mission is to “foster, expand and perpetuate the practice of field and target archery and the spirit of good fellowship among all archers.” The organization produces various archery events throughout the year, including instruction certification courses, competitions and regular archery classes. And I must say we were impressed by how helpful, supportive and kind everyone there was, to each other and to the beginners.

The outdoor range is open to the public noon-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, except during certain events (these are listed on their website calendar). We wanted to explore the outdoor trails but found out we needed our own equipment for the outdoor range (or needed to be a member or guest of a member to rent equipment and use it outdoors).

So instead my son and his friend, both 7, took a lesson in the indoor range. The indoor range is open to the public 1pm-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays in sessions hosted by SCA member Randy Redmond. The club equipment was available to us and the public to use, and we learned about the different kinds of bows and how technical archery is.

After filling out a waiver, the kids were given bows and arrows, and I paid $3 each ($3!!) for the lesson. A safety talk led to an outfitting session, which made the boys happy, as they felt very cool strapping on their gloves and practicing their archery stances and positions. It was surprising to see them so focused and attentive after having endured the car ride there, which featured them horsing around in their booster seats having thumb wars.

The boys quickly hit the target and even made some bullseyes, which became a huge point of competition. I purposely kept forgetting the score. (I know, bad mom...)

We came back after hours, when the sun was setting, and roamed all over the beautifully laid out trails throughout the area. It was roughly a mile or so of walking and exploring, but if we’d continued hiking out the main road it would have added another half an hour, and we would have connected to the golf course and disc golf course area in upper DeLaveaga Park.

It was a beautiful hour ramble through cottonwood, oaks, redwoods and eucalyptus trees. We felt that we were truly in the Sherwood Forest with all the small trails, bridges and perches leading to hay bale targets. The trails wound around the trees and hills through the various target areas and provided many lovely views of the park.

I was so impressed by the range that I talked to the instructor about the next steps in getting involved in the archery world. He suggested I go to Predators (yeah, not exactly subtle), an all-things-archery store and range in Gilroy. So, off we went to try out bows, get another lesson and look into buying a bow. What I learned is that if you buy a bow at Predators it will come with free lessons. That was a big incentive, except being from Santa Cruz I couldn’t imagine driving out there for lessons. However, I did sign my son up for Boy Scout Camp, where he will get lots of archery practice, and if he loves it after that, I will consider diving into the world of archery and getting a bow.

Until that time, though, I hope to see you at the Santa Cruz Archers range!

Santa Cruz Archery Range
Operated by Santa Cruz Archers
DeLaveaga Park/Brookwood Drive entrance (use 141 Brookwood Drive, Santa Cruz, CA in Google Maps for directions and proceed through gate; parking area is just past stream crossing)
831.420.6230 or
Open Sat-Sun noon-4pm (outdoor range); 1-4pm (indoor range and lessons).