• Students practicing archery

      Aiden is 3rd from the left (Photo – Jeff Ludes, Level 3 Archery Coach)

      The Pasadena Roving Archers. Established in 1935, it is the oldest existing field archery range in the United States.

      By Aiden Ford

      My introduction to the Pasadena Roving Archers (PRA) occurred when I was 13 years old. My little sister had planned a hangout with her friends at an introduction class for archery near the Pasadena Rose Bowl. For some reason, I was invited and I decided to join in just for the fun of it. Never had I expected to be recommended to the Junior Olympics Archery Development (JOAD) team right off the bat.

      At the time, I had some experience with archery but not nearly enough to be significant. I was always interested in a bow and arrow but that was mainly from comics and stories. In the intro class, I just went off about how I shot a bow in a Virtual Reality game. Somehow, I managed to hit a bullseye and pop a balloon on my first try.

      The process of eventually joining JOAD went quite quickly. I was required to attend the Returning Archers classes multiple times before an instructor assigned me an unofficial test for entrance. Once the test was completed, I was formally introduced to the JOAD coaches, after which I was officially accepted onto the team.

      For the first couple of years, I didn’t take being on this team very seriously. It was fun, with practice feeling more like a place to hang out with fellow archers rather than training to get better. There was also the interruption of Covid which canceled practice for quite a while.

      Once we returned, however, the goal of the team changed, and looking back, it changed for the better. A place on this team was no longer as relaxed, and a requirement for competitions attended throughout the year was set in place. The team changed to become more competitive.

      I remember my first competition vividly. It was the Outdoor National Championships in Chula Vista. I had arrived with 10 arrows and I left with two. Now, you would think that losing eight arrows at your first competition would take a serious toll on your morale, and you would be thinking correctly.  It did not feel good by any means, but the blow was lightened by parents, friends, and coaches who could not have been more supportive.

      This experience drove me to take archery seriously. I practiced more and dedicated more time to going to the range to shoot. Coaches and teammates continued to help whenever it was needed. I can confidently say this helped tremendously. Last summer I attended the same tournament and shot my personal best score.

      I have continued to improve and my scores, skill, and dedication have only increased.  To me, there is nothing more satisfying than releasing an arrow and watching it sink into the center of a target. It is a feeling that I can only hope everyone has a chance to experience at least once. And believe me, it is addicting.

      Why not give it a try? Especially given the convenience of location, cost, and the wonderful benefits that may follow if you find yourself inspired to continue as I have.

      Aiden Ford is a Marshall Fundamental Junior and an archery State medalist.

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