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Gotham Archery: Channeling Katniss in Gowanus


Gotham Archery
(Photo: WeHeartIt)

Good news for New Yorkers who left the latest Hunger Games installment inspired by Jennifer Lawrence’s badass arrow skills: A new archery school has just landed on the Brooklyn fitness scene.

But while the owners of the Gowanus-based Gotham Archery certainly appreciate Katniss Everdeen for upping archery’s cachet, they’re hoping to spread the word that the sport’s not just for teenage warriors. It’s really an exercise in mindfulness. You know, with arrows.

Anyone can participate in archery,” says Jimmy Pang, a managing member who (very patiently) teaches Gotham’s introductory classes, starting at $27. “We’ve had intro classes for 10-year-olds (our minimum age) up to 70-year-olds and beyond, and students of all shapes and sizes.”

And the sport obviously appeals to women. When I went on a recent, frigid Tuesday, two out of the six of us in the intro class were women, as well as about half of the more experienced archers in the studio—and they had definite Katniss-esque swagger.

But regulars seem to come not so much for the primal aspect of archery or the physical one (though you will feel it in the rhomboid and trapezius of your drawing arm if your form is correct, as well as your standing muscles if you put in the hours). Instead, they’re there to quiet their minds.

Gotham Archery Gowanus Brooklyn
(Photo: Gotham Archery in Gowanus, Brooklyn)

“Archery requires mental focus in order to hit the target consistently,” explains Pang, who likens it to meditation, yoga, or martial arts, which he also does. Unlike those disciplines, however, archery gives you instant feedback about whether you’re doing it right: If your mind isn’t on it, and if you aren’t in tune with your body, the arrow isn’t going to land anywhere near the target.

Gotham’s intro classes aim to help you fine-tune that mind-body connection. They start with safety briefings (mostly common sense, like pointing arrows toward the ground), followed by hands-on instruction taking aim at everything from golf balls to balloons. Fun!

The classes are advertised as one-hour, but they generally run longer—with supervised practice time after the official instruction is done. Weekend classes are packed, with 15 to 25 people, which makes for a fair amount of waiting around for your turn to practice. Weeknights might be a better choice—for six students in my class, we had two very attentive instructors and everyone got to shoot every time. The odds, you could say, were definitely in our favor. —Ann Abel

Gotham Archery, 480 Baltic St., between Nevins and Bond Sts., Brooklyn, www.got-archery.com