In the 1938 movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood," starring Errol Flynn, Robin gets into an archery contest with the Sheriff of Nottingham's best bowman. When the archer hits the bull's-eye, Robin one-ups him by splitting the arrow with his own.
Movie magic made it seem as though Flynn had made the incredible shot, but it was actually Howard Hill, one of the most famous archers of his time.
Hill, who lived in the Los Angeles area, was a longtime member of the Verdugo Hills Archers, one of five archery clubs in the general area.
Area clubs have produced numerous national champions, but that doesn't mean you have to be capable of splitting arrows to join one. "Good heavens, no," said Jo Goodwin, secretary of the Malibu Mountain Archery Club. "We've got low C class members and they have just as much fun as people who shoot high scores--maybe even more."
The clubs are family-oriented and inexpensive to join, charging a reduced fee if you volunteer for work sessions.
However, archery equipment can be expensive. A bow can cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. Arrows are about $35 a dozen for aluminum to $180 a dozen for graphite, and they are easily lost. Sophisticated extras such as scopes, stabilizers and computers can make the sport even more expensive.
Club members travel to out-of-town shoots and clubs also stage their own monthly competitions.
You do not have to belong to a club to join the Southern California Archery Assn., which is affiliated with the National Archery Assn. The SCAA charges $37 a year and provides an archer with a handicap card, enabling him to enter tournaments such as the California Indoor Championship on Jan. 17 in Monrovia. About 560 archers belong to the SCAA. For information, write: 2024 Colleen Drive, Rosamond, Calif., 93560.
Conejo Valley Archers--Founded in 1972, it has 250 members and a 40-acre range in Camarillo. Annual dues are $35 for singles, $45 for a family. Information: 818-340-6059.
Malibu Mountain Archery Club--One of the area's oldest clubs (it was begun in 1938), it has 75 members and a 45-acre range. Annual dues: $50 for singles, $55 for a family. Information: 213-676-9407.
Pasadena Roving Archers--Established in 1935, it is billed as the first "roving" range in the country. The club has 120 members and charges $30 a year. Its 36-acre range is in Lower Arroyo Park in Pasadena. Free classes and equipment are offered on Saturdays. Information: 818-798-7586.
Valley West Archers--The 24-year-old club has 85 members and will be moving next summer to a new range behind its present range in Valencia. Annual dues: $24. Write P.O. Box 3154, Canyon Country, Calif., 91351.
Verdugo Hills Archers--Founded in 1938, it began as an Olympic-style club and now has a roving range on 80 acres in Sunland. Members also shoot indoors on Wednesday nights at Sunland Park. Dues: $25 a year. Information: 818-993-6991.