Having a bow and arrow shoot-off with your friends would seem pretty dangerous (and illegal), but would you believe me if I told you there is a legal and safe way of doing just that? Well there is, and its called Archery Tag!
When I first heard about this, it was explained to me as the archery version of Paintballing, and having now had a go, I reckon that it is about the best way of explaining it. Specially designed arrows with rubber and foam ends replace the armour-piercing ones, and a protective mask is worn as you would in Paintballing. The games are very similar to Paintballing ones too, and you can choose how you are going to defend and attack, but unlike paintballing you don’t run out of ammo, or have to spend a fortune buying more. You simply pick up an arrow from the floor and fire it.
We drew together a rowdy, outdoor-type group of people and headed over to Blackcat Archery near Swindon to find out more about it.
We arrived on probably the only clear sunny day that week, which was a stroke of luck. After paying up we had a short safety briefing and were introduced to the equipment. Then our group of friends was immediately split in to two teams. Masks were on, and one team had the fun of shooting arrows at the other, with the aim of getting used to being shot. We then swapped with the group that we just hit having extra impetus in hitting us as many times as they could! This answered the main question we all had, “does it hurt when you get hit?” and it turns out the answer is no, not really. Even the headshot from my wife was fine, although words were had in jest! This was shaping up be a lot of fun!
With six arrows each, a mask and a bow, we headed out on to the field for a couple of warm-up games. With the addition of a bit of mud, this had most of us puffing, but it was brilliant fun. The games were simple, get the other teams flag and return it to your end, well it sounded simple anyway. You could soon see people becoming tactical with their arrows, sometime waiting for someone to fire then making a run for it, or using decoys whilst the others grabbed the flag, to win the game. It was a great way to hone our shooting and we soon felt ready to head in to the woods for the next level of Archery Tag!
Playing in the woods was a whole new ‘ball-game’. Having trees to hide behind opened up the games a whole lot more. Tactics came in again and arrows were flying all over the place. Our shooting was getting much more precise too, with just about everyone pulling off little raids and hits between trees. I swear one of the guys bent his arrow around the tree at me.
We finished with a game which involved us running through a corridor made up of everyone else, which stupidly I offered to go first. I was doing ok until I was shot in the nuts at close range, and that was my attempt over. OK, so close range in that area most definitely hurt. If I was to take this on regularly I would invest in a box!
Archery Tag was great fun, easy to pick up and a brilliant way to spend time with a family group or friends. If you liked Paintballing but didn’t like getting hit, you might well love Archery Tag.