Gaby Sepulveda stood with her legs shoulder length apart. Her right eye was closed as she focused on the target with her left eye. She was about to shoot a bow and arrow for the first time.
As she pulled her right arm back and let go of the bow, the arrow sped to the target. It wasn’t a bull’s-eye, but it was close enough.
“Getting it on the first try was good,” said, Sepulveda, 11, a Girls Scout member from Troop 100 in Pinecrest. “It’s really fun. I would do it again.”
During the first Saturday of every month, the Sense of Wonder Nature Center at A.D. Barnes Park teaches an Introduction to Archery class. The class is open to the public on a first come first served basis and costs $6.
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Bows, arrows – and targets – are provided.
On a recent visit, nearly 25 children were taking turns shooting the target with a bow and arrow in an open range area at the park. Instructor Andre Da Silveira and his assistant, Alexa Abreu, taught them how.
“Archery is part of our human history,” Da Silveira said. “It’s been one of the longest-going sports in the Olympics. It’s a hobby I like to share with everybody.”
Before the newbie archers began practicing, Da Silveira prepped them on the safety and proper use of the bow and arrow. The sharp tip of the arrow can hurt someone.
Da Silveira recommends that children in the class be at least 9 to practice archery because of the strength needed to pull back the bowstring. But, younger children are welcomed to try the challenging sport.
“If you’re little, shooting can be hard because the person won’t have the strength and speed needed to get the target and it can be frustrating at that point,” he said.
Lucia Salazar, 6, smiled as she tried to pull the arrow back by herself. Her father crouched down beside her and helped her. She wasn’t able to get the arrow very far her first two tries, but she got pretty close to the target the third time.
Her older brother, Luis Salazar, 9, tried next. It was his first time using a bow and arrow. He said the experience was cool and that he would definitely do it again, even though he wasn’t able to hit the bull’s eye.
“I was using the small bow and I think I should’ve used the bigger bow because I ended up hitting the bush,” Salazar said as he laughed.
Although archery takes strength and speed, women are usually better archers than men, Da Silveira said.
“Men could shoot twice as fast but women are usually better at the sport because they have more patience.”
For the majority of the class, it was their first time using a bow and arrow. Abreu said many young children sign up for the class, but there have been adults who have been interested.
A.D. Barnes Park has been offering Introduction to Archery since Da Silveira was transferred to the park three months ago. The class is still in its trial-and-error phase, as the park evaluates how the community responds to the program.
Maria Victoria White, 9, said she really enjoyed the class and would definitely do it again.
“It doesn’t take a lot of strength, but I got scratched with the bow and that hurt,” she said. “It’s hard because I thought I was aiming for the target, but the arrow didn’t go.”
Da Silveira began practicing archery in 2008 after his boss at a former job introduced him to the sport. Then, he became an instructor in 2010 and shot competitively for two years.
He said he practiced for four months before he hit his first bull’s-eye.
“It’s satisfying,” he said. “But, it takes some practice.”
For more information, call the A.D. Barnes Sense of Wonder Nature Center at 305-662-4124.