Callowhill Archery opens as Philadelphia’s only indoor bow and arrow range

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Philadelphia native Yuan Jie Wen first learned his bow and arrow two years ago. Today, he runs the city’s only indoor court in the neighborhood where he grew up.

“I just want people to have fun and learn,” said Wen, 31, who started Callowhill Archery in late October. “It doesn’t matter if you hit the bull’s eye [or] your arrows fly everywhere.

In the 1990s, Wen’s parents operated a tofu store in the same building that Archery now occupies, on 12th Street behind The Rail Park. Her family lived in the second floor apartment.

“I think they’re very proud…that I’m running a business where they started,” Wen said of his parents. “It’s almost like passing a torch.”

Callowhill has changed a lot since he was a teenager, he said. He recalls that the area was plagued with drugs and crime before experiencing an influx of gentrification around 2010. Young professionals and artists moved in as development projects and trendy restaurants and bars began to flourish.

“There’s this sense of obligation,” Wen said, explaining his choice of location. “My home is here, I stand here and I want to do something to contribute to the neighborhood.”

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He hopes to introduce the sport to Philadelphians who may have never picked up a bow before. Callowhill Archery is now the only indoor shooting range in town, according to Wen, as B&A Archery in the North East recently closed. For Wen, there is a therapeutic element to archery, due to its solitary nature and its focus on self-improvement.

“Archery is about quality rather than quantity,” he said. “Every time you shoot that arrow back, there’s a lot of things that have to go right. … Your form must be perfect. Your technique must be perfect. You have to keep your cool. »

The Range at 446 North 12th St. offers 90-minute sessions for $65 per person. There are up to eight slots available in any given session and all equipment is included in the package – a bow, arrows and armguard.

Wen operates Callowhill Archery while also working as a property manager. He conducts classes alongside Ray Caba, state-level archery champion and National Field Archery Association master trainer.

Caba, a 76-year-old Delaware County resident who worked for the Philadelphia Gas Works for nearly 30 years, said he practiced archery and competed for most of his life. life – he first picked up a bow at age 17.

“It’s just a relaxing sport,” Caba said. “At first it’s a little hard to get used to, because you’re actually using muscles in your back that you never thought you had.”

Head Coach Ray Caba has been using a bow and arrow for over 50 years
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Caba’s charisma shines through when he leads class sessions. He recently told a class that he “passes out at the sight of blood” to emphasize the importance of safety. He discusses proper stance, proper bow handling, and the most important anchor point.

The anchor point is the mark that a shooter pulls on the bowstring to meet when he draws his arrow back. Someone can use the corner of their mouth as an anchor or the corner of their eye.

“You have to be consistent in your anchor point,” Caba said. “If you have different styles, you’re not going to hit the center of the bullseye.”

The indoor range is approximately 10 yards long from shooter to target, which is shorter than the standard of around 18 yards for indoor matches, but after learning the basics, each session ends in friendly competition.

Dajanaye Rollins, 30, recently attended a session. She hasn’t filmed in about a year due to the pandemic, she said, but was ready to resume her arc.

“I can definitely say the way I shot over a year ago is different from the way I shoot now,” said Rollins, who studied with Caba. The Brewerytown resident is thrilled to have a new range so close to downtown.

“It was really fun,” she said of her first session. “I’m pretty introverted, so going out and talking to people I’ve never met before, doing something that I really really like, that was really fun for me.”

Rollins’ advice for newcomers to the sport: “It’s great not to touch at all.”

Callowhill Archery at 446 N. 12th St.
Jenny Roberts for Billy Penn

Earnest A. Martinez