Archery in itself is a fun activity and a great way to test your upper body strength and dexterity. To shoot straight arrows, you need to have steady arms and a reasonable amount of arm strength to pull the string towards your face, to hold it in place while targeting before releasing the arrow.
What would make it even better is if you could somehow test what you've learned on the practice range and take it out onto the field. That is exactly what Hana No Yama Field Archery offers. Well, sort of. You won't be shooting any moving targets here like a certain Ms. Katniss Everdeen or Mr. Peeta Mellark (Hunger Games). But instead, they have spread out the targets deep around the mountain forest. This gives you the opportunity to stroll/hike/trek/scout around, take in nature's beauty, and then get back to annihilating the opposing team, score-wise.
If you're curious to find out how it feels to wield a bow and shoot an arrow, or dying to know what it felt like to be an actor on the set of that popular Hunger Games movie (or the novel trilogy), then read on for the details.
Organizing the Event:
While not necessary, I strongly suggest that interested parties make a reservation beforehand to ensure you have priority in using the facilities during the alotted time.
Reservations can both be done via a phone call or an email. However, only Japanese is the supported language at the moment. So make sure to invite your Japanese (or Japanese speaking) friends to this event.
The nearest station is Aihara (相原駅) of the JR Yokohama Line. Take exit #1. From there it's a good 10-15 minute walk to the site. Refer to this map on their website for details on how to get there from the train station.
Once you arrive at the club-house you will be greeted by a hospitable elderly couple. Sort out your reservations with them. After which you will be instructed to:
a) Place your belongings on the shelf or in a locker, and bring your valuables with you.
b) Read the list that explains what and what not to do. (The list is in Japanese)((Que Horror!))
c) The couple will supply you with bows, arrows, arm guards, finger guards, and breast guards (for the ladies... usually).
d) Proceed to the practice shooting range.
At the Practice Range:
You will be taught the basics, from using the equipment and proper posture, to safety precautions, which included the following:
- Do not point a bow with an arrow loaded-in at anywhere but the target.
- Once within the course, always go counter-clockwise. Doing otherwise may result in unexpected body piercings.
You will be shooting from a distance of 10m first, then at 15m after they see you shooting properly at the 10m mark.
The Main Course:
Onto the field. There is one course available for beginners where you shoot targets mostly from a distance of 10m. The course took about an hour and a half to complete, but it just felt like 30 minutes. To be able to pat yourself on the back and say you did a good job afterwards, you need to get at least 80 points. The most points you can get per target is 6 (for a bull's eye, innermost ring). It is decreased by 1 point for every ring after.
What I enjoyed the most is how cleverly each target mark is located. You will have to re-adjust your posture and finger-string placement for each target, since it's not always in front of you, which is what made it more interesting. The course will then eventually lead you back to the practice range, where you can start firing off arrows again if nobody is using it.
Now comes the part that'll determine your interest in the sport (or not) forever: determining who won, or if you've managed to get a score higher than 80 points.
"May the odds be forever in your favor."
For first-time bowmen, the fee is a flat 2,500 yen for the course, plus 500 yen for the rentals. For a more detailed pricing scheme, refer to their web page.
The archery field does not weather-discriminate, thus it's open all year round. If you want to go on an adventure of epic proportions, or have an itch that only an arrow or two can scratch, OR if you just want to do something fun with your friends, look no further; Hana No Yama Field Archery delivers.