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.)

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