Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Archery Range at SoCal Park in Jeopardy
Supporting local archery and especially local archery ranges is something I am proud to do. I read in the news last week about the Pasadena Roving Archers being scrutinized and
the archery range in Pasadena facing shut down because of some hikers and dog walkers. News stories pop up online all the time, but seeing one like this saddens me, but also lights a fire in my gut. I am quoting both articles I read so you can get all of the info I have. This is a lengthy post because of the articles, but please read them through. Just take a look at some of the photos from some of the archery shoots. Look how many people love coming out to shoot in Pasadena? Pretty impressive if you ask me!

Image © Pasadena Roving Archers
Image © Pasadena Roving Archers

Story #1 from The Pasadena Star-News.
Roving Archers fend off critics taking aim at their shooting range in Pasadena's Lower Arroyo Park

PASADENA - Since 1935, Pasadena Roving Archers have had a home in the Lower Arroyo Park.

It's now the oldest field archery range in the world and one of only two in Southern California, according to President Gary Spiers.

But after more than seven decades of accident-free and generally peaceful co-existence with dog-walkers and hikers, club members say they're being targeted by claims they take up too much space and are a danger to others using the popular 150-acre recreation area.

"It's unclear how it evolved," Spiers said, adding that he thinks the controversy started with a complaint to the City Council late last year.

"The problems are not clear to us."

The safety and space issues in the Lower Arroyo, last raised about 20 years ago, has resurfaced at the most recent Recreation and Parks Commission meetings - now accompanied by a lively on-line debate, pro and con.

"We've never had an accident here, the archers are very safety conscious - no one wants to shoot at anyone," Spiers said Tuesday, as a group of club members moved between targets set against the hillside east of the arroyo channel.

The club's area is one area of dispute.

The city lists the range as 18 acres, but long-time Roving Archer Jim McQuarrie said it's probably half that. Use of the north range is restricted to once a month, plus an annual competition, he said, and the club's area has never expanded.

Spiers said the city - not the club - put up a line of short wooden posts among the rock edging that separates the range from the designated hiking trail; several are topped with signs alerting passersby to the archery range.

"The signs don't say 'keep out,' but they do say 'Danger, archery,"' Spiers said. "It's like a riptide at the beach - people have to take responsibility."

The nonprofit club has about 350 members, including whole families, Spiers said. It has conducted classes in one form or another since 1967, including free try-outs for the public at weekends, and several members are world-class competitors.

But former Councilman Bill Crowfoot, who lives near the lower arroyo, said having archery on public land is problematic and not just another "tedious squabble" between park users.

"Archery, for all its tradition and inherent elegance as a sport, involves the shooting of potentially lethal weapons," Crowfoot said in a lengthy memo sent this month to the city's Recreation and Parks Commission.

Archery, he said, is not an "innocuous use" for recreational land.

"This issue has become significant because we have a shortage of accessible landscaped attractive park space for walkers in Pasadena," Crowfoot said in an email Tuesday.

"People are discovering just how much land on the west bank of the arroyo is off limits to walkers because of the archery. The city is more crowded now than it used to be and too much of the park is turned over to archery. It's that simple. To say that this controversy is all because of one person is unfair; one person had the guts to call them out."

John Fauvre, who brought the initial complaint to the City Council, said walkers in the arroyo have a longer history even than the archers.

"I'd like to see shared use," Fauvre said, suggesting designated days or hours for archers to use the range that would leave it open to walkers at specific times.

And if the range is one of the last in Southern California, he said, that's probably because other cities have decided the liability could be too great.

"It's in one of the most beautiful, accessible areas of the arroyo," Fauvre said. "Our position is that, if archery is dangerous and imposes risks of liability to the city, maybe it's no longer appropriate."

Spiers and MacQuarrie said the history of archery as a public recreation in the lower arroyo, as with the nearby Casting Pool, should be acknowledged and appreciated.

"There are 22 miles of hiking trails," MacQuarrie said, adding that no city map shows paths for walkers in the archery range.

And as for reports of "bad archer behavior," Spiers said, not everyone shooting is a member of the club, although everyone is required to follow the rules posted.

"I would like to see (the city put) a new set of rules there," Spiers said. "Adequate signage would go a long way - if you don't understand the rules you're going to be in conflict ... Mutual consideration goes a long way, otherwise it becomes an intractable problem."

Marnie Mosiman of South Pasadena, walking her Airedale, Zazi, past the range Tuesday morning, said she was aware of the debate over the Roving Archers' use of the arroyo.

"I heard a rumor they were closing this trail at the weekends," Mosiman said. "It's not true - great," she said, as Spiers and MacQuarrie said that and other "misinformation" was going around.

Mosiman said she'd never felt endangered during her regular walks, but is "cautious" passing the archery range and keeps to the marked trail.

"I'm a big fan of letting everyone who comes in this area using it as they want to," she said. "We'd love an area to let dogs off leash."

Story #2 from ABC 7 in Los Angeles:


PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- There's a dispute brewing over a popular nature spot in Pasadena. It's between the archery club that's been there for 75 years and the people who love to hike and walk their dogs there.

The archery range is located in the Lower Arroyo Park in Pasadena. The first "Robin Hood" movie starring Errol Flynn was filmed there back in the 1930s and some of the members of the Pasadena Roving Archers club helped train the archers in the movie "Avatar."

The club has also produced Olympic champions. Lower Arroyo Park has been its home since 1935. It's 18 acres of targets and nature, and now it's the center of a dispute over access to an old trail near targets.

"This is actually the oldest field archery range in the world. The 28 targets designate a field range and, if we start to give that up, we can't recapture it," said Gary Spiers of Pasadena Roving Archers.

There are 22 miles of hiking trails in the park, and what's in dispute is about a quarter mile of it.

John Fauvre lives near the Arroyo and said he's been walking through there for more than 60 years. He said there should be a way to share this trail.

"I think you can have a safety program, if the archers and the walkers cooperate. That would clarify the situation and would clear the archery lanes, so that they could be safe for walkers. And that there be clear rules," said Fauvre.

According to a nearby residents' association, the archery club and a group of walkers and hikers have their sights set on working out a shared use resolution to present to the Pasadena Parks and Recreation Commission at its next meeting in July.

"We've never gone where the archers are. I walk here with different friends," said Monica Krieger of South Pasadena.

Krieger said everybody can get along and it's clear that the range is there.

The archery club boasts that in its 76 years there, no one has ever been hurt by an arrow. Both sides are hoping no matter what happens, that remains the same.
 _________________________________________

I also found this in case you want to support the Pasadena Roving Archers. If you are an archer, I highly recommend that you write, but PLEASE be polite! Don't be disrespectful. Be an upstanding person and explain your stance in a respectful manner. Read the 'What To Say' below for some writing tips.

Your voice needs to be heard! Please take a moment to send a note to our local government officials who are currently considering policies that may seriously impact PRA's ability to operate as we have for many years. If you have enjoyed your experience with archery in Pasadena, please do the following:

WHO TO WRITE TO:
Send an email to the following addresses (below):
  • The members of the Recreation & Parks Commission
  • The City Council
  • The Pasadena Star-News
  • The Pasadena Roving Archers (so that we have a copy)
If you live, work, or attend school in Pasadena, please contact the City Councilperson for your district (you can find your district at the Pasadena website, http://www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/Council/ if you're not sure; the archery range is in Steve Madison's district); otherwise, send your message to the Mayor's office.

WHAT TO SAY:
In your own words, explain who you are, your connection to Pasadena and the archery range, and address any one point of your choosing: the amount of park area dedicated to archery vs. other sports, the benefits of archery as exercise, educational benefits, economic benefit to the city, safety, history, the minimal environmental impact, the inherent absurdity of "shared use" that would permit people to walk in an archery range, etc. Basically, whatever is important to you.
  • If you live, work, or attend school in Pasadena, please say so.
  • If you habitually shop, dine or do business in Pasadena before or after you come to the range, please say so.
Thank the city for providing this unique recreational opportunity and encourage them to continue to do so.

ADDRESSES:
Recreation & Parks Commission:
Stacy Houser, Liaison: shouser@cityofpasadena.net (She will distribute your letter to the Commission members)
Mayor Bill Bogaard: bbogaard@cityofpasadena.net
City Manager Michael Beck: mbeck@cityofpasadena.net

City Council:
Jacque Robinson, District 1: district1@cityofpasadena.net
Margaret McAustin, District 2: mfuller@cityofpasadena.net
Chris Holden, District 3: jmcintyre@cityofpasadena.net
Gene Masuda, District 4: gmasuda@cityofpasadena.net
Victor Gordo, District 5: vdelacuba@cityofpasadena.net
Steve Madison, District 6: smadison@cityofpasadena.net
Terry Tornek, District 7: ttornek@cityofpasadena.net

Pasadena Star-News: letters.star-news@sgvn.com
Please also send to info@rovingarchers.com

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