Thank You!

The city council meeting went on until 2:30AM this morning, but ultimately we prevailed.  This historic archery range gets to remain intact!

Thank you all for signing the online or paper petition (nearly 4000 signatures total), and writing letters (over 150) or postcards (roughly 200) to the City Council.

Thanks to the over 200 archery supporters who made significant sacrifices of personal time to show up in person.  The gentleman sitting next to me drove 85 miles to attend.

We had amazing passionate speakers who eloquently explained just why archery and this range are so important, and politely but effectively demolished the nonsense put forth by our opposition.  We had young archers speak, including a large group of JOADs.  We had senior citizens.  We had an archer from the US Junior Dream Team.  We had a barebow world champion.  And we had numerous people who are not archers but recognized the unfairness of what was happening, and spoke out in favor of preserving the 80-year old archery range.

We packed the city council chambers.  BOTH of the overflow rooms with were overflowing with archery supporters.  By contrast, despite an organized fear-mongering campaign by archery opponents, the number of people who showed up to speak against the archery range “could fit in a minivan” as one fired-up speaker put it.

I think we were simply too big to be ignored.

A lot of us have worked on this for so many hours over so many months.  I can’t express how touched I am by all of the amazing support.

Thank you.

City Council Meeting Monday – Please Attend!

The archery range is on the agenda for the Pasadena City Council meeting on MONDAY (February 2).  The item is scheduled for 8:00 PM.  We really need a strong turnout from YOU, our supporters of the archery range.

The city council meets in room S249 of the Pasadena City Hall, 100 North Garfield Avenue.

The proposal being put before the City Council includes a very troubling element, asking the City Council to:

Direct the City Manager to work with the Pasadena Roving Archers and residents to pursue the identification of a suitable alternate site for archery activity in order to allow the southern range in the Lower Arroyo to be used for passive recreational uses on weekdays and roving archery on weekends

This would seem to open the door for the City to declare that, say, a much smaller target archery range is a suitable substitute for the historic Lower Arroyo Archery Range.  Limiting archery in the Lower Arroyo to weekends only is the first step towards eliminating it entirely.  Exactly what our opponents want.

The complete proposal is available as part of the meeting agenda available here (scroll down to item #13).


Pasadena’s Pioneer Families LIKED Archery in 1891!

Our previous post pointed to a 1943 Los Angeles Times news article, which mentioned relevant details about field archery and Pasadena’s field range dating back to the earliest years of the sport. An even older Los Angeles Times article from 1891 — just five years after Pasadena’s incorporation as a city — documents how deeply the sport of archery has been ingrained in Pasadena’s history. The article (again, behind a paywall) is available here.

The 1891 article comes from the Times’ society pages. It recounts “the social event of the season for the young people” held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C. D. Daggett on a Tuesday evening in June. Charles Daniel Daggett was a pioneer citizen of Pasadena, a prominent businessman who was active in the social and cultural life of the city, serving as one of the first presidents of the Tournament of Roses and as Grand Marshal of the Rose Parade three times. Among the distinguished guests at this event were Prof. Charles F. Holder and Dr. Francis F. Rowland, the two members of the Valley Hunt Club who founded the Tournament of Roses just one year earlier in 1890. The “young people” at this party included “Master Sobieski Lowe” and “Miss Alice Eaton,” children of even more illustrious Pasadena pioneers, Thaddeus Lowe and Benjamin Eaton.

At this summer party 123 years ago, the four Daggett children “entertained their young friends” and “the evening’s pleasure, however, was not confined to the young people, for a number of their friends more advanced in years were fortunate enough to secure invitations, and none more fully entered into the spirit of the affair than they.” The Times article reports that, shortly after the guests arrived at 5 o’clock, an archery contest was entered upon. Almost everyone present participated, and those who did not, enjoyed the proceedings from the east piazza. Some very creditable scores were made…” and prizes were won by both boys and girls.

There are three striking points relevant to today’s debate that can be inferred from this brief mention of archery in a 123-year-old newspaper article:

  1.  Archery in 1891 was a sport that could be practiced in the backyards of Pasadena’s landed gentry such as the Daggett family’s estate, but this was decades before the City provided any archery facility for the general public.
  2. The Times article does not report any concern for the safety of the archery contest participants or the onlookers from the east piazza or the Daggetts’ neighbors, who were not protected by a 120-foot hillside. Even in 1891, those who engaged in the sport knew that archery was inherently safe.
  3. Archery in 1891, as it is today, was a sport enjoyed by boys and girls, men and women. Archery has always been a sport of equal opportunity for all ages and both genders, long before Title IX and other legislation mandated such equal opportunities in other sports.

Even though archery was inherently enjoyable by all, it took an enlightened Pasadena city government to open the sport to the general public. The City permitted archery to take root in the Lower Arroyo in the 1920s and 1930s, first at the Target Archery Range and later at the Field Archery Range, always insisting that these ranges be open and available to the public at large. Due to continued support by Pasadena’s city leaders, all members of the public have been able to practice archery in the Lower Arroyo Park for nearly a century. Pasadena has remained committed to the principle that archery should be accessible to all, not only the landed gentry and their guests, and not only the private archery clubs who established and maintained the Lower Arroyo ranges.

In today’s debate, a small segment of the landed gentry is resurgent, seeking to roll back nearly a century of progressive city policy by drastically restricting or eliminating the general public’s opportunities to practice archery at the Lower Arroyo range. Ironically, one of their proposals is to restrict archery in the Lower Arroyo to events conducted by a private club, the Pasadena Roving Archers (PRA), a group whose aims they otherwise oppose.

Pasadena’s present-day leaders should resist this pressure from powerful interests. The City Council should not roll back a century of progressive city policy toward archers and their sport. The Lower Arroyo Field Archery Range should be kept open to the public for archery seven days a week.

(Reference: “YOUNG AND OLD Alike Enjoy Themselves on Tuesday Evening,” Los Angeles Times, Thursday, June 25, 1891, p. 7.  )

Insights from a National Championship Won at Pasadena’s Field Archery Range – in 1942!

An old newspaper article – written in 1943 – provides some useful background for the current debate about the Lower Arroyo Archery Range. The article was published in the Los Angeles Times and is available (alas, behind a paywall) here.

The 1943 LA Times article is about Kennard (Ken) Moore, who won the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) championship at the Pasadena range in 1942.  While it was written as a human interest story, the Times article also corroborates many details about the status of Pasadena’s field archery range and the sport of field archery dating back to the early 1940s.  Many of these historical details are relevant to the Council’s debate about the range today, notably:

  • The Pasadena field range already had 28 targets in 1942.  Not only does the Times article mention the number of targets twice, it also reports meticulously the total number of arrows and the maximum possible score for the championship rounds:  “Two rounds are fired and four arrows used on each of the 28 targets (a total of 224 shots if your arithmetic isn’t so good.)  Best possible score is 1120 …” Unlike documents which only mention the number of targets in passing, these extra numerical details in the 1943 Times article reinforce its reports of 28 targets and rule out any possibility that these reports might have been typographical errors.
  • The earliest NFAA outdoor championships were conducted by mail, with competing archers shooting the same standardized rounds at their own local courses.  The Outdoor NFAA Mail Tournament competition started in 1941, and the NFAA Standardized Field Round was adopted in 1942.  NFAA’s crowning of Ken Moore as its 1942 national champion implies that the NFAA recognized Pasadena’s field range as a championship-caliber course in 1942.
  • Ken Moore lived and worked in Northeast Los Angeles, about 1/2 mile outside Pasadena’s western border.  Nonetheless, the City of Pasadena in 1942 welcomed this non-resident to practice his craft and to win his championship on Pasadena’s range, which has always been a regional asset.  In return, the City could bask in the glory of being the site of the national champion’s exploits — much like the whole country tuned in earlier this month to watch non-resident football teams from Oregon and Florida State compete in the national semi-finals at the Rose Bowl, another regional asset that distinguishes Pasadena as a Great City.
  • In the 1943 Times article, Ken Moore makes the golfing analogy, saying that field archery is “similar to golf, in that it’s played (or shot) over a course with 28 targets laid out similarly to an 18-hole links.  There are high and low targets, ones that require kneeling stances, ‘dog legs,’ narrow corridors of trees or shrubs, and numerous other hazards to make the shooting tough.” Remember, this is a national champion 72 years ago trying to be informative about his sport, not an advocate trying to sway the vote of a City Council in 2015.  The analogy between field archery and golf is intrinsic, and dates back to the beginnings of the sport.
  • Toward the end of the 1943 Times article, Ken Moore gave three tips to prospective archers, all of which have some pertinence to matters being debated today:
    • “Contact an archery club for advice on what equipment to buy … even a champ can’t fire warped arrows straight.”   It’s too bad Mr. Moore can’t be here today to tell the Council about the improbability of warped arrows soaring to backyards atop a 120-foot hillside.
    • “Get a good archer to show you the technique.” The Pasadena Roving Archers (PRA) have been conducting weekly classes for the general public since the 1960s.
    • “After that, practice is the prime factor.” In fact, Mr. Moore “used to practice daily” while “perfecting the technique.” In the current debate before the Council, PRA and other archers stress that the range should be kept open throughout the week because archers need daily practice to get good.

We hope that members of the City Council will take a moment to read old-time news articles like this one to gain some insights into the true history of archery in Pasadena.  Such contemporaneously published accounts don’t suffer from the retrospective biases of advocates on either side in the current debate.

(Reference: “Depression Sets Champ on Archery Title Trail,” by Jack Curnow, Los Angeles Times, Tuesday February 2, 1943, pages A7–A8.)

The Saint Andrews of Field Archery Courses

Matilda "Babe" Bitzenberger, co-founder of the Pasadena Roving Archers.
Matilda “Babe” Bitzenberger, co-founder of the Pasadena Roving Archers.

Pasadena’s Lower Arroyo used to be home to three archery ranges for three different archery sports (target, field, 3D).  While all three archery ranges have been a part of Pasadena’s historic commitment to supporting archery sports, the Public Field Archery Range is the Crown City’s crown jewel in this respect.  The erstwhile Target Archery Range, though seven years older than the field range, had roughly the same historic significance as the Brookside Golf Courses:  both were old and venerable within Southern California, but not very old relative to their respective sports which had been practiced for centuries in other places throughout the world.  The field range, on the other hand, dates back to the very beginnings of the sport of field archery.  This sport was invented in Redlands in 1934, and was quickly adopted in Pasadena in 1935 under the leadership of legendary local archers Henry and Matilda (Babe) Bitzenburger.  Pasadena’s Field Archery Range is the oldest surviving range from the early years when this sport was birthed.

Pasadena’s Field Archery Range has roughly the same historic significance to the sport of field archery as Scotland’s St. Andrews Old Course has to the sport of golf.  Golf wasn’t invented at St. Andrews, but it was the first place where an 18-hole golf course was adopted, and the consensus among golf enthusiasts all over the world is that St. Andrews is the historic home of golf.  As the world’s oldest surviving field archery range dating back almost to the sport’s inception, Pasadena’s range in the Lower Arroyo has a better claim to being the historic home of field archery than any other place on earth.  Relocating the Field Archery Range or removing some of its 28 targets would be akin to the Town of St. Andrews relocating the Old Course or eliminating some of its 18 holes.  Fortunately, the UK is so protective of its historic golf legacy that Parliament has passed a law ensuring that such a desecration to the history of golf will never happen.

Pasadena’s city leaders should similarly take enormous pride in preserving the City’s historic recreational sports treasures.  They’re an important part of Pasadena’s unique character, and they contribute significantly to making Pasadena a Great City. Pasadena is well known as home of the world famous Rose Bowl – the “granddaddy of them all” among college football bowl games and stadiums. But Pasadena was also a groundbreaking pioneer in adopting and preserving two lesser known sports: disc golf in the Upper Arroyo and field archery in the Lower Arroyo. How amazing that one city could have created and maintained three “granddaddy of them all” sports facilities, all within a few miles of each other and all within the same Arroyo Seco.

Current-day city leaders should preserve Pasadena’s historic recreational treasures in the Arroyo and not overrule the judgment of nearly a century of preceding city leaders by starting to dismantle the historic sports facilities that they enabled and supported through all these years.  Keep Pasadena a Great City by respecting and preserving its historic recreational sports legacy.

A Brief History of Archery Sports in the Lower Arroyo

Archery-Lower-ArroyoPasadena’s legacy of archery in the Lower Arroyo is the history of three different archery sports and three separate archery ranges supported and maintained by three different archery clubs.  First there was Pasadena’s Target Archery Range, established in 1928 on the east side of the channel by the Pasadena Target Archers (PTA) for the long-established sport of target archery.  Then came Pasadena’s Field Archery Range, established in 1935 on the west side of the channel by the Pasadena Roving Archers (PRA) for the newly invented sport of field archery.  Finally, there was the Sagittarius 3D Archery Range, established around 1950 by the Sagittarius Club and extending northward from the Field Archery Range.

While these three archery ranges were historically referred to as the PTA range, the PRA range, and the Sagittarius range, they have always been City-owned recreational facilities open to the public at large.  These ranges were not private enclaves of the archery clubs who maintained them.  Rather, they have represented Pasadena’s historic commitment to providing facilities for the public to enjoy these types of recreation.  For a period of nearly three decades from 1950 until the closing of the PTA range in the late 1970s, these three ranges made Pasadena’s Lower Arroyo a mecca for archery sports unrivaled anywhere in the world.

The Pasadena Target Archers range occupied the east side of the Lower Arroyo north of California Street from 1928 to 1975. The AIDS Memorial Grove was planted on the area beginning in 1991.
The Pasadena Target Archers range occupied the east side of the Lower Arroyo north of California Street from 1928 to 1975. The AIDS Memorial Grove was planted on the area beginning in 1991.

Since the late 1970s, the history of archery in the Lower Arroyo has been one of consolidation, not expansion.  First the PTA range was closed and its memberships were transferred to PRA.  Approximately ten years later, the Sagittarius club also folded, and PRA absorbed many of its members and activities.  Even though the Sagittarius range (northern range) was not closed at that time, as of the 2003 adoption of the Lower Arroyo Master Plan (LAMP), archery has only been permitted on the Sagittarius range for PRA events on a maximum of 13 Sundays per year.  Today, all three archery sports take place regularly within the historic Field Archery Range (southern range).  Archery activities that once spread over more than 20 acres on both sides of the channel have now been consolidated into a little less than 10 acres within the confines of the Field Archery Range (not counting the minor extension into the old Sagittarius range for 13 specific PRA events per year).

This consolidation has been possible because a field archery range can host not only field events, but also some types of target and 3D events as well as general archery instruction and practice areas.  However, the reverse is not true.  The sport of field archery cannot be accommodated on a target archery range, nor on the old Sagittarius range.  A field archery range bears roughly the same relationship to a target archery range as a full-size golf course bears to a driving range.  Squeezing all three archery sports into less than 10 acres has only been possible because the unique topography of the Lower Arroyo is conducive to a much more compact field course design than the 15 to 30 acres normally recommended by the National Field Archery Association (NFAA).

The PRA clubhouse stood on the west side of the Lower Arroyo from 1945 to 2002, when it was destroyed by arson. This photo was taken in the 1970s.
The PRA clubhouse stood on the west side of the Lower Arroyo from 1945 to 2002, when it was destroyed by arson. This photo was taken in the 1970s.

The fundamental feature that distinguishes a field archery range from a target archery range is that field archery is contested over a 28-target course presenting archers with varying distances and terrain conditions, just like an 18-hole golf course presents a set of varying challenges to golfers.  Field archers were shooting at 28 targets at the Lower Arroyo range even before the 28-target course was standardized by NFAA in 1942.  The Pasadena range has always had 28 targets except for one decade from 1963 to 1974 when PRA could only maintain 14 targets due to declining membership and resources, though the bales and shooting lines of the lower 14 were never removed.  The exact details of the earliest 28-target courses are not well documented.  However, ever since PRA resumed use of the full 28-target course in 1974, the Field Archery Range has remained in the same configuration for the past 40 years.  This is documented by City records and PRA records, as well as historical aerial photos dating back to the 1970s.

Council Hearing Postponed

The City Council discussion on Archery Range that was scheduled for December 15 has been POSTPONED! It looks like we’ll go to council in February. We’ll let everyone know as soon as the date is confirmed.  [UPDATE: The issue is now scheduled for FEBRUARY 2.]

This is not a bad thing. Everyone is busy at this time of year, so a February date is better to get archers/supporters to the Council meeting. We have more time to prepare. Watch the PRA Facebook page and the Pasadena Archery site/Facebook page for updates and info on how you can help!

If you live in Pasadena, please call, write or email your councilperson, AND in districts where the seat is up for election (1, 2, 4 6), you can do the same with all the candidates.

You can also contact the mayoral candidates and tell them that the archery range is a campaign issue, that the Mayor represents all of Pasadena and not just District 6, that the Lower Arroyo is YOUR park, too, and that you’re voting for the candidate you believe will serve the people of Pasadena, which includes protecting and preserving this historic range and its popular educational program. Thank you so MUCH!

Archers’ Response to Stewards of Public Lands

Recently the self-proclaimed “Stewards of Public Land” posted a pro forma rebuttal to the exposure of their misleading claims by this website and other commenters. Unfortunately, their rebuttal simply rephrases their unsupported assertions to make it sound as if they addressed the issues. In contrast, all of our counter-assertions are backed up by publicly available documentation linked from this website, and our facts stand unrefuted.

Let’s take a closer look

Help Preserve Pasadena’s Historic Archery Range

We need your help.

[UPDATE: The City Council meeting is now scheduled for February 2.] In mid-September On February 2, the Pasadena City Council will consider an agreement regarding the historic Lower Arroyo Archery Range.  This is Pasadena’s last remaining archery range, and it has been in the Lower Arroyo Park for 79 years — in fact, it is the world’s oldest continually operating field archery range.

Tad-and-WylaThe Pasadena Roving Archers (PRA) maintain the range and use it for 14 hours per week to provide inexpensive archery instruction to the public and to conduct archery tournaments – which are also open to the public.  The City is paid a portion of the fees collected for these classes and tournaments. For the remaining 85% of the hours during which the park is open, the range is not reserved by PRA and is available for archery use by the general public.

The agreement under consideration by the City Council is expected to essentially preserve the status quo – allowing the archery range to continue its existence at its current size and location, consistent with the City’s own Lower Arroyo Master Plan (LAMP).  The “deal points” in this proposed agreement are simply an update to the terms under which PRA will be allowed to continue its limited presence at the range.  These new terms include higher fees paid to the City, continuation of the PRA’s range maintenance responsibilities, safety credentialing of archers, and clearer demarcation of the archery range boundaries.  The agenda for the Recreation & Parks Commission meeting of February 4, 2014 includes the most recent version of the proposed deal points between the City and PRA.

Opposition to Archery in The Lower Arroyo

Some opponents of archery have seized on the proposed renegotiated agreement between PRA and the City as an opportunity to accomplish a broader objective.  A group calling itself “Stewards of Public Land” believes that:

The ultimate objective needs to be the removal of archery from the Lower Arroyo…”

This is an influential group whose founding members include Claire Bogaard, Tom Seifert, Dianne Philibosian, Ann Scheid, and Tim Brick.

In an effort to collect signatures for their petition to the Council, the Stewards of Public Land are promoting many false or misleading claims.  Contrary to what is stated on this group’s web site:

  • The archery range is not “devoted to an exclusive private use.”  It is available for public use for archery.  The archery range is a designated-use area for a specific purpose, just like other City facilities such as Brookside Golf Course, the casting pond, tennis courts, basketball courts, Hahamongna Frisbee golf course, and the lawn bowling field. Such usage is consistent with Pasadena Municipal Code (3.32.110), which specifies that archery and hiking are examples of permitted activities, and that all permitted activities must be restricted to their defined activity areas.
  • The size of the archery range is not 18 acres – and there is no plan to increase the current size of the range.  According to Pasadena Public Works (page 4), the Southern range is approximately 7.5 acres.  This is the only permanent designated-use area for archery in Pasadena.  An adjacent Northern range occupying approximately 4 acres is a general-use area currently used for archery less than 8 hours per month with temporary targets; at all other times the Northern range area is available for hiking and other passive recreation uses.
  • The agreement under consideration by the Council does not “permanently prohibit walking, jogging, dog-walking, birding and other forms of enjoyment of nature on the West side of the Lower Arroyo.”  All of these activities are currently allowed on the West side of the Lower Arroyo on existing trails that skirt the perimeter of the archery range.  The proposed agreement would do nothing to restrict the use of any of these existing trails.
  • danger-signThe “lovely trail” pictured on the Stewards of Public Land web site is actually a target maintenance path that crosses shooting lanes inside the boundaries of the archery range.  It’s already illegal for anyone (archers and non-archers alike) to walk between archers and targets.  Currently some pedestrians use this path as a shortcut through the range instead of staying on the City-maintained trail outside the archery range.  The proposal before the council aims to delineate the boundaries of the range more clearly in order to prevent inadvertent pedestrian intrusions into the range that compromise safety.


This map shows the size of the archery range relative to the rest of the Lower Arroyo Park, and the park's extensive network of legal hiking trails (in green), all of which lie outside the range and would continue to be available for public use.
This map shows the size of the archery range relative to the rest of the Lower Arroyo Park, and the park’s extensive network of legal hiking trails (in green), all of which lie outside the range and would continue to be available for public use.

 What About Safety?

In the interest of safety, a 2011 Pasadena Police Department report calls for the use of barriers around the range to discourage entry by hikers and other passive recreational users.   Under the proposed agreement, natural barriers would be used to prevent pedestrians from walking on a target maintenance path that crosses shooting lanes.  This is also consistent with the LAMP, which calls for hiking trails and other recreational activities to be separated from the range by means of natural barriers such as trees and rocks.

The Police Department report also specifies that “every person to use the archery range must first attend a safety course.”  The proposed agreement would require all archers using the range to prominently display City-issued credentials, reflecting completion of a safety training class or competency exam.

It’s important to assess safety based on facts rather than perception.  The fact is, there has never been an archery accident at this range in its entire 79-year history.

This perfect safety record is not due to some unusual string of luck, this is the norm for archery.

National Safety Council statistics indicate that archery is more than three times safer than golf.  And nearly all of the accidents that contribute to those statistics are from bow hunters cutting themselves on sharp hunting arrowheads that are prohibited at this range.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks commissioned a study of the safety of archery. They concluded that:

“archery is one of the safest sports, with an injury rate of less than one incident per 1,000 participants, in 2004 (Table 1). Recreational activities like golf and fishing have an injury rate of up to 1.5 to 2 times the rate for archery (Figure 1). Common sports like soccer, baseball and basketball have injury rates 15 to 25 times that of archery (Figure 1).”

Measures included in the current proposal will help the range to continue its perfect safety record.

Please Help!

Help ensure that Pasadena’s historic Lower Arroyo Archery Range continues to be the vital place it has been for nearly 80 years. Join in the call to the Pasadena City Council to protect and preserve the Lower Arroyo Archery Range and the people who thrive there.

With your help, we can preserve Pasadena’s only remaining archery range.  Here’s how you can help:

  • Send a brief email to, asking Council members to preserve the historic Lower Arroyo Archery Range.*
  • Sign the Pasadena Roving Archers petition.
  • Come to the City Council meeting to show your support in person.  We expect the meeting to be in be mid-October, but the agenda has not yet been announced.  (Send us an email and we’ll be sure to let you know once it has been scheduled.)

John* If you would like for your email to the city council be included as part of the official record, please copy City Clerk Mark Jomsky, and ask that it be included in the agenda packet for the meeting.

If you would like to communicate your comments to the Pasadena Roving Archers, please also copy the PRA at