The use of the bow and arrow, or archery as it is known today, has been a part of human civilization since the earliest times. Each major civilization and even the smallest tribes have had archers in their ranks. Archery has been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, its main use is for recreational activity and can mostly be seen in TV, movies, and books. Most notably in recent years, Robin Hood, Katniss Everdeen, Hawkeye, the TV series Arrow, among others.
With the long history humans have had with the bow and arrow, it’s natural that everyone has their own ideas on what archery is. When I think of archery, I think back to antiquity. The days of Olympus, Zeus, and Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey” and how Odysseus was able to string his bow and send an arrow through twelve axe shafts. Or a more modern example, Katniss and her apple piercing display during their tests for The Hunger Games. It’s one of those things that you have to try at least once in your life and strike off your bucket list. That’s where Kodanda Archery Range comes in.
Kodanda is the name of the bow of the great Rama, known in Hinduism as the Lord of Virtue. The bow was his constant companion and it sent many evil demons to where they came from. It’s a fitting name for an archery range, if you ask me.
Main entrance of the archery range
Makati Cinema Square, also known as Makati Square, is one of those places that you can’t really miss. If you hang out at Greenbelt 1 and are fond of walking, you can reach it by walking along Arnaiz Avenue past AIM and the new Nikon service center. It’ll take about 15 (for fast walkers) to 30 minutes (for slow walkers). If you’re using the MRT, you can get off at Magallanes station and take a jeep with a PRC signage. Or from Ayala station, you can take one of the jeeps with a Libertad or Mantrade sign. You can ask the driver to drop you off at your destination.
Kodanda is a new indoor archery range, is fully air conditioned, and is located at the lower ground floor of Makati Cinema Square. It’s a fitting place for those who want to try out their archery skills and learn the sport from professional coaches. It has both comfort room and dressing room off to the left side that can accommodate seven archers at a time. Kodanda's archery range gives you plenty of room to practice those bow and arrow skills. For people who already have their own equipment, the range fee is P150 per hour. For those like me (beginners), you can try out your archery skills for half an hour (P280), which includes the rent for the equipment and one target paper. If you’re more adventurous or want to have a longer session, you can try it out for 1 hour (P500, add P30 for the target paper) and this also includes rental of the equipment.
The archery range
If you’d like to take the sport more seriously after trying it out, you can opt for the training sessions. For P6,000 you get ten one-hour sessions with a personal trainer. This also includes the rental for all equipment and the range. If you have kids who want to train and become Olympic Gold medalists, they recommend to start them off young. It was suggested that around the age of seven would be a good time to start training in archery.
Modern archery has basically two types of bows that are used: the modern recurve bow and the compound bow. The easiest way to tell them apart would be the fact that the compound bow uses pulleys and levers, while the recurve bow looks more like the bows you would see in history books. The Olympics only allows the use of the modern recurve bow, and according to the coaches at the range, this is the bow used for training beginners.
Modern recurve bow
The compound bow
Another important part of the sport is, of course, the arrow itself. It can be made out of several types of materials such as wood, fiberglass, aluminum alloy, carbon fiber, and composite materials. The ones at the range are made out of aluminum alloy. Like all sports, safety is of the utmost importance. Most of the archers wear a bracer to protect the inside of the bow arm from being hit by the string. Female archers also wear a chest guard (plastrons) but men could also choose to wear this for protection. The last piece of equipment that was provided was the finger tab to protect the hand while drawing the string.
Archery essentials: arrows, finger tab, and bracer
A closer look at the finger tab
The Archery Experience
Archery is harder and more complicated than I thought. It has safety rules because you’re handling equipment that can be dangerous. Before you start your session, the instructors will advise you of all the do’s and don’ts of archery, and go through the range rules. The instructors also have whistles, and through it will advise when it is safe to start shooting and when it is safe to retrieve your arrows from the target.
Like most sports that I have experienced, the stance plays a very important role. Feet should be shoulder length apart, and your upper body facing the target. When you draw the string, it has to be a smooth motion–and you don’t keep the string drawn for very long. The release is a very important aspect of the sport. You don’t simply release the string by pulling your fingers away, you have to let it slide away. Apparently, if you pull your fingers away from the string, it causes some type of vibration and your arrows will pretty much end up nowhere near your target. Being relaxed while shooting was the one thing that really helped me getting those arrows where I wanted them: on the target. But most importantly, my first archery experience was fun. Every time I notched an arrow, I kept thinking: “Superhero!”.
I suppose that’s not bad for a beginner!
Archery is a great sport, and I think it is one of those sports that Filipinos can excel in, and should pay more attention to. It’s mythical and ancient at the same time. The sport builds character, patience, and is quite relaxing, really. Kodanda Archery Range brings this ancient sport to our front steps and makes it easier for all to pick up this great past time. Try it out, for fun, and you might just discover you have those good bow and arrow skills to be the next Olympic Gold medalist for the Philippines!