Bros & Bows: Archery Games Review


My brothers and I spent summers up at the cottage making our own bows and arrows, firing them off at targets in the woods, but that was the extent of my archery training.  I hadn’t picked up a bow since my childhood, and wondered if that practice would serve me all these years later. 

As I prepared myself for my evening of archery tag at Ottawa’s Archery Games, I did my best to channel the archers of legend and lore.  I’d like to think the result was a combination of Legolas from Lord of the Rings, and Robin Hood (Prince of Thieves), but played by Nicolas Cage.

I kept this in mind as I took a few warm up shots and acquainted myself with the bow.  Staff are friendly and put everyone at ease by taking the time to familiarize participants with the equipment and answering any questions before the games begin.  After a brief rundown, we put on safety masks and arm guards, armed ourselves and prepared for battle, entering the caged astro turfed arena.  Our game master gave a clear explanation of the rules and the boys were biting at the bit, ready for our mock medieval bout to begin.

The whistle blows and players dash to the centre of the course grabbing the nearest arrow, then bolting back behind the safety of inflated obstacles. It’s on. My second shot hit my target in the face, dead centre of his face mask’s visor. Any gamer worth his controller knows the satisfaction of the headshot. The reward centre of the brain lights up. At that moment I knew that archery tag was for me. There is something truly gratifying about blasting your friends with padded arrows.

I didn’t have a chance to get too cocky because a second later I was hit on the inner thigh. It was painless but I didn’t see it coming. It startled me and I was grateful it didn’t hit higher.  I was out for the time being, but before long I was back in the game.  Great cardio!  As a barrage of arrows rained down on us I did my best to stay alert, keeping my head up while reloading my bow.  This is the real trick of the game it seems.

“A good player knows the right time to be aggressive. The more offensive team usually has edge. For the most part, you can count on your teammates to bring you back into the game, when your aggression doesn’t pay off, so take some risks,” said game master Noah Jackson, commenting on the best approach to archery tag.

Staff ran us through a variety of different games, returning later in the session to the ones we enjoyed the most.

Top 3 Archery Games

  1.  Elimination – the most popular game with our group, and follows the same rules as dodgeball. The difference being, if you can dodge a wrench, you still may not be able to dodge an arrow…
  2.  Medic – you’re Giovanni Ribisi in Saving Private Ryan, except your friends are protecting you from a barrage of arrows as you revive fallen comrades.
  3.  Royalty – the Archery Tag version of chess. But which one of them is the king?

After our last match ended, our t shirts drenched in sweat, we formed a firing squad and took aim at the brave birthday boy.  Watching your good friend being pelted by a dozen padded arrows simultaneously is even more enjoyable than you’d imagine.

Archery Games is an exciting group workout and an awesome activity for any occasion.

Ramsgate & Hackett

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