Archery Dodgeball Is the Rec-League Sport You Should Be Playing

A new twist on an old schoolyard game

archery tag
An archery tag facility in Toronto
Vince Talotta/Getty

Dodgeball is one of the best parts of being a kid (or the most malicious, depending on whom you ask). Now, scores of adults around the country are appropriating the schoolyard classic, and they’re adding a new fold: bows and arrows.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, people all over the U.S. are taking up archery dodgeball, which is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of playing with the aforementioned rubber balls, the middle of the archery dodgeball playing area is littered with foam-tipped arrows, and everyone is equipped with a bow.

The goal remains the same: knock out everyone on the other team by hitting them with an arrow, or by catching their arrows as they fly in your general direction. Instead of wearing out your arm chucking balls as fast as you can, you can wear out your arm by quickly drawing back the bow and letting loose.

There are a few other differences, at least in the league The Wall Street Journal profiled. First off, everyone wears paintball masks; as much as you don’t want to get hit in the face with a dodgeball, you definitely don’t want to get blasted in the head with one of these rapid-fire arrows. That’s not the only similarity to paintball, either: there are also obstacles around the court that can be used for cover and blind-firing arrows. If you ever wished you could take a quick breather during middle school dodgeball, this might be the game for you.

Other differences take into account the very different equipment on hand. Some rounds of the game at the Archery Arena in West Chester, Ohio, include large targets on the field; knocking down part or all of one will eliminate a player on the opposing team.

One thing The Wall Street Journal makes clear is that this is a workout, first and foremost. But it’s one that calls back to the days when “going to the gym” meant heading down the hall for second period, rather than abiding a goals-driven weekly exercise regimen.

If you’re interested in checking out archery dodgeball, there are archery gyms in Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, with more opening around the country all the time. Will archery dodgeball catch on the way, say, axe throwing has in major cities? Hard to say, as there’s more of a barrier to entry here in terms of equipment and fitness. But if you want a workout that doubles as a competitive twist on an old favorite, you could do much worse than having a grown-up Nerf war with your drinking buddies.

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Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal


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