An arrow escape
Aim for the bull's-eye at Reno's indoor archery range
For Lystra Pitt, the act of shooting an arrow is as natural as playing with a puppy. The owner of Reno’s indoor archery range, Wasting Arrows, theorizes that the ability to work a bow is hardwired into our collective DNA.
You see, around 8,000 BC, early man was working out the kinks of the bow and arrow right around the time he was domesticating dogs.
“I tell people everyone has an instinctive ability to work with dogs,” Pitt said. “You see a dog, and you know if a dog is happy or a dog is sad, and you can communicate with a dog. Well, it’s the same thing with bows. We’ve developed instinctive abilities to shoot a bow.”
Judging from the popularity and wide client base of Wasting Arrows, Pitt might just be on to something.
Lystra and his wife, Deana Pitt, opened the indoor archery range about a year ago. The biggest attraction at Wasting Arrows is its 5,500-square-foot archery facility with 22 20-yard lanes. The range offers lessons, equipment rentals, leagues and tournaments, along with birthday parties and youth programs.
Most sporting-goods stores have a range for archers to try out equipment, but those aren’t meant for any sort of practice. Wasting Arrows does have a small pro shop in the front of the facility, where they sell Precision Shooting Equipment bows, targets and all the accessories necessary to sling arrows, including the arrows.
Renting a lane runs $15 an hour. Those without their own equipment can rent a bow for $10 a day. For the totally uninitiated, the range offers private intro lessons for $45 an hour.
Lystra said part of why he loves archery is for its “easy to learn, hard to master” nature. He said it’s something everyone can do, and after an hour-long lesson, most people will feel comfortable with a bow and should be able to score their first bull’s-eye.
For those who like their first taste, the shop can set them up with everything they need to become an avid archer. Lystra said the hobby has a low cost to entry. A good beginner recurve bow, the more traditional-looking weapon, sells for about $150, though the store sells a $40 recurve bow as well. The more modern compound bow, with all the gears and pulleys, runs for about $300.
Wasting Arrows also has an array of events to keep beginning and advanced archers coming back. There are weekly shooting leagues, monthly tournaments and the shop also participates in a national youth archery program.
The novelty tournaments are one of the biggest draws. During October, archers squared off in a zombie hunt, and in December, they popped Christmas ornaments off cardboard trees.
“It was so much fun,” Lystra said. “There was a lot of Christmas frustration getting vented.”
The weekly leagues are also popular attractions. Monday nights are for adult group lessons, and Tuesdays are reserved for the advanced league. On Wednesday nights, the Silver Arrow Bowman club sets up its ark of 3-D Styrofoam target animals. Archers also get the chance to slay flying—hanging—dragons and a velociraptor during the 3-D shoot. Thursdays are the beginners’ league and Fridays Night Flights features trap shooting. Saturdays hold the youth league.Take a bow
When Wasting Arrows opened about a year ago, it filled a void that has been empty in the area for about 15 years. Though Reno has a few gun ranges, there was no place to shoot an arrow indoors since the area’s only archery range, Pacific Archery Sales, closed in the ‘90s.
The idea to bring back indoor archery to Reno germinated in March 2012, when the couple purchased a trap machine. They brought the machine to archery shoots and set it up on a friend’s property about 20 minutes east of Reno to teach lessons. Though they were getting lots of business, the surroundings were less than ideal.
“It was windy, and hot and cold and dusty,” Lystra said. “We were fighting the weather all the time. We had to cancel because we had 90 mile an hour winds [one] day.”
After hearing the grumblings of local archers nostalgic for the good ol’ days and missing an indoor range themselves, the idea dawned on them. At the time they both were in the construction business. As it started to slow down, the two were looking for new careers. Starting a range made a lot of sense.
They knew rental prices around Reno would be pretty cheap and both were already certified instructors, so they drew up a business plan and found a space on Double Diamond Parkway in South Reno. The place opened November 2012, and they have been shooting arrows ever since.
When the Pitts opened Wasting Arrows they thought the place would only attract bow hunters and those looking to keep their skills sharp between competitions. But Deana said a majority of their business comes from families with children.
Kids today love bows and arrows, according to Tim Thomas, archery education coordinator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife and a patron of Wasting Arrows. A big part of Thomas’s job is running archery programs in schools, and he said arrows are having their own popular culture renaissance.
“It started with Lord of the Rings and the elves,” Thomas said.
Movies, such as Brave and The Hunger Games, and TV shows, like Arrow, have fueled the fletching fervor. Popular video games Assassin’s Creed 3 and the last iteration of the Tomb Raider series heavily feature bows. And in the 2012 London Olympics, archery was one of the most tweeted-about sports in the games.
Lystra can understand this impulse to get into archery because of popular culture. After all, he begged his dad for a bow when he saw Rambo as a teenager in the ’80s.
With all these bow-wielding heroines and heroes, it’s no wonder Wasting Arrows is bursting with kids, especially during the recent winter break. They had to offer more youth archery classes because class sizes got too big.
When you get a group of kids together and give them a bunch of pointy sticks to shoot, most parents start to ask questions about safety. But a dedicated range master armed with a whistle controls the chaos making sure no one gets stuck with an arrow. Thomas said that in the 10 years the National Archery in the Schools program has been running, the organization had had zero injuries.
“It is safer than any ball sport they play in school,” Thomas said. “I think the only ball sport that beats us out is Ping Pong, in terms of safety.”
Wasting Arrows also participates in Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD), a national program that allows young archers to compete in mail-in archery tournaments and recruits the best to compete in the Olympics.
In these leagues, boys and girls compete together on a level playing field. And when you talk to passionate archers like the Pitts and Thomas, they say they love the diverse nature of the sport, that anyone can be an archer—boy or girl, young or old. Thomas remembers a demo by two paralympian archers, one who shot with only his legs and the other who shot despite missing an arm and a leg.
“It’s such an eclectic group of people,” Deana said. “We’ve got bow hunters and target shooters and moms and kids and lawyers and hippies, we just have such a wide group of people who shoot. It’s amazing to see the diversity of archers on the line.”