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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>