Have you ever gone to the movies to see an action film, and felt empowered as you walked back to your car afterwards? Feeling a wicked karate kick or drum solo coming on right in the middle of the parking lot? Ya, me either… umm… that would be silly. The Hunger Games, however, had everyone wanting to wield a bow and arrow. That is how we discovered Vingt Neuf Bowman (VNB), a local archery club that offers classes for archers of all ages and skill levels.
My sister and I had come across a Groupon for a bow rental at an archery range pretty far from home. Despite the fact that we couldn’t hit a damn thing, we had a blast! I started looking around for archery ranges and lessons closer to home, and stumbled upon VNB’s family archery classes. I marked my calendar and eagerly awaited the next class.
My son and I showed up a few minutes early, registered, and were both fitted with appropriately sized Matthews Genesis bows. The club had a large number of bows available for students to use, free of charge. These are the same bows that are used in high school archery classes and competitions. They have an adjustable draw weight that is suitable for beginners. The club also had junior and tyke sized bows for the kids. The indoor range is a large hall with rolling targets butts. The targets are positioned according to the class needs, ranging from 5 yards to 20 yards, with FITA targets. The new comers start around 5-10 yards, and when ready, are eventually moved up to 15 and 20 yard targets.
There are plenty of instructors, who are all very friendly and knowledgable. All compete or volunteer for local and state archery competitions, which are often hosted at VNB. The instructors showed us the rules of the range, and the ropes of shooting a compound bow. The environment was safe, well-lit, and warm (the latter being relevant because classes are during the colder months). The instructors were very helpful in teaching us proper form, critiquing us, and slowly introducing us to new techniques. It was not long before my son and I were hooked, attending every weekend, and seeing great progress. I recall giggling to myself after over hearing an instructor whisper “thank God for The Hunger Games,” in reference to the large waves of new students that kept rolling in each week.
We have been shooting at VNB for around 4 years now. We also became members of the MSGFPA club, of which VNB is affiliated. We have introduced friends and family to the club and VNB, all of whom have been impressed and pleased with the clubs grounds, facilities, and instructors. Some are like extended family members (everyone loves Mr. Bob)! We love our club, and do what we can to support it.
VNB’s ranges are located in White Marsh, MD, on Honeygo Blvd. The ranges are located on 25 acres of land that is shared with the Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association (MSGFPA), which is claimed to be the oldest conservation club in the US. VNB’s outdoor range caters to archers of all disciplines and skill levels (no crossbows). There are 6 outdoor practice lanes, 14 outdoor field target ranges, and 2 broad head / tree stand ranges. There is also an indoor 20 yard range within the clubhouse, which is where the classes are held.
During the fall and winter months, VNB offers family archery classes for archers of all ages and skill levels. Classes are not limited to families, or those with children, and there is a good mix of families, teens, and solo adults. Classes are open to the public and at a very reasonable rate. The rate is discounted if you become a member of MSGFPA, which also grants you access to the outdoor ranges and fishing pond, however, membership is not required for family archery or JOAD. VNB also hosts a Junior Olympic Archery Division, or JOAD, which meets on Monday nights. The club hosts loads of family friendly events, such as picnics, potlucks, fishing tournaments, and holiday parties. There are also regular 3D shoots, and an annual shoot to benefit veterans’ charities. You can even rent the hall, which is quite lovely without the archery butts. Information on hall rental can be found on MSGFPA’s website, however, the picture posted does not do the hall justice. It shows the entrance, but the wall that is not shown has a very large stone fireplace and windows.
If you are interested in attending a class, visit Vingt Neuf Bowmen’s family archery page, or drop in on a Saturday morning. For more information on joining the MSGFPA club and gaining access to the outdoor ranges, campgrounds, and fishing ponds, visit the Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association’s website and fill out a membership form. You can tell them Natalie sent you, but it won’t get you any good seats!