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home | Newsletter Archive | San Diego Archery in Balboa Park

Geena Davis - Archer
Geena Davis - Archer

San Diego Archery in Balboa Park

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"You learn a lot about yourself. You're spending a lot of time alone with yourself practicing archery. You get to know yourself, how calm you can be, how long you can focus. You have to be very self-motivated. You have to have faith in yourself and believe in your abilities.
It was an area I had never delved into."
- Geena Davis -

We need to be straight with you. Balboa Park is an easy target for all sorts of stories. But, if you aren't into slings and arrows, this "Tip" might make you quiver.

As the story goes, a local fella by the name of Rube Powell (not the drag queen, RuPaul) dominated the sport of archery for five years during the 1950s. He won the National Federation of Archery Championships in 1951, 1953, 1954, 1955, and 1956, finishing second in 1957 and 1958. Unparalleled success by a modern day bowman. Unparalleled success in a relatively unheralded sport. At one point, all attention was focused on Powell's marksmanship. He received all the national records and he was inducted into state and national Hall of Fame-type organizations including the San Diego Hall of Champions in 1974.

What? You can't get excited about archery? Aha. We get your point. Archery is always a target of yawns and disinterest.

From what we can gather, archers and perhaps knowledgeable San Diegans are the only people who know about Rube Powell. To that end, we thought we'd put a more recognizable face to archery. We needed something to grab your interest.

Back in 1999, it was Academy Award-winning actress, Geena Davis, who drew back her bow and shot herself into the Olympic trials. She was shooting for the Sydney Olympics and made it to the semi-finals for selection. She placed 24th of 300, but alas did not make the team. Had she made it to the finals, she would have competed in the finals at the Chula Vista's ARCO/ U.S. Olympic Training Center. She did, however, do some training there. Ranked 13th in the United States in archery in 2001, she was among just 32 women to qualify for the 2000 Olympic trials in archery. Get this: Geena had only learned/trained in archery for two years prior to her big showing on the national archery scene.

Most people don't know that that San Diego has quite the reputation for archery. Back in 1938, before Rube Powell, there was a San Diego Archers' organization. San Diego archers had their shot from 1938-1950s at the Balboa Park Archery Range which stood in the canyon known as Gold Gulch in Balboa Park. Gold Gulch does have a salacious history, but we won't go there now. These days Gold Gulch is home to the San Diego Police Mounted Patrol horse stables.

The Balboa Park Archery Range moved near Alcazar Garden in the 1950s. You can find it just off the southwest corner of the Alcazar Garden parking lot. Look for the dudes sporting hunting equipment in the middle of San Diego's equivalent of Central Park. Bull's eye.

It would make sense that those involved with the Balboa Park Archery Range would have the sharp idea to honor Rube Powell by changing the name of the range to the Rube Powell Archery Range.

Rube Powell Archery Range - Balboa Park
Rube Powell Archery Range - Balboa Park

Though the 28-acre range is tucked away under the foliage of Balboa Park and certainly removed from unsuspecting tourist-types, the Rube Powell Archery Range is a busy place from sunrise to sunset. It's busy because Balboa Park is home to the only two public archery ranges in all of Southern California. The other, the target range, is at Morley Field. Once upon an arrow, it was located on the south side of the intersection of 6th/Laurel. These days, you're most apt to find a sharp-shooting radar cop at that location courtesy of the San Diego Police Department.

Folks come from far and wide to practice at both the Rube Powell and Morley Field Archery Ranges. Just in Southern California alone there are 3500 archers, but San Diego has 400 archers who use the ranges on a weekly basis. The ranges are open to the public every day with exceptions. The San Diego Archers' Club takes over the range on first Saturday and the third Sunday of each month. The National City Turtle Archers (nice name) use the Field Range at Morley Field on the second Sunday of each month. The ranges charge a nominal $2.00 based on the honor system.

TIP: If you have any interest to try archery, look for the head honcho of the San Diego Archers' (weekends). He is usually nearby willing to offer some freebie technique tips for those brave souls who want to try taking some shots. Rumor has it that this guy carries extra equipment in his car to lure prospective enthusiasts.

Field archery focuses on field marksmanship and marked/unmarked targets usually involving 28 targets up to 80 yards away typically in rough terrain or woodland areas. Think of a golf course. Now, think of archers following a hilly, long course and practicing their technique. The fewer the shots, the better the score. Field archery often attracts hunters.

Target archery, however, is the most popular. Target archery utilizes the gamut of different bows and the standard stationary targets as seen in the Olympics. Skills needed? In either case, field or target archery, archery requires commitment, concentration, confidence and control. Cool.

There's something about seeing the old sport of archery still being practiced in the great outdoors. There's something special about seeing the tradition passed down the family tree to sons and daughters. There's something about seeing women take their best shot and make no apologies for their good aim. There's something about a place that has been the target of every archer's heart since 1938.


Rube Powell Archery Range - Balboa Park
This range is for all to enjoy and experience. Head down there and have a look around. The archers will welcome you and answer any of your questions.

It is a walking range through the canyon adjacent to Highway 163. It consists of 40 targets that can be shot from various ranges. The first 15 targets are closed most of the year, but are opened during special tournaments.There is also a small practice range at the beginning of the course with target ranges from 10 to 40 yards.

Off of I-8, take 163 south and follow sign to "Park Blvd., Zoo, Balboa Park". Take left onto Park Blvd. The entrance to the park is at "President's Way". Off Park Blvd, President's Way is a left turn "about" a mile down the road. Turn right at stop sign in park. Continue through park until you can make a required u-turn in front of the S.D. Museum of Art. Make a right turn into the Alcazar parking lot. Go to the opposite end of the lot to the archery range

Morley Field Archery Range:
This is a standard range with eight lanes. Range markers go from 10 to 70 yards.

Exit I-8 at Texas St. (Texas St. is about 2 miles east of the I-8 and 163 interchange.) Follow Texas St. south, crossing University Ave., continuing until you cross Upas St. into the park towards the Morley Field municipal pool. Make the required u-turn and turn right into the parking lot. Continue through the parking lot and make the first right turn through the open gates. This road continues into another parking lot and the archery range is at the end of the lot on your left, across from the ball fields.

·  Spreckels Organ Pavilion Balboa Park
·  Mysteries of the Balboa Park Lily Pond
·  Donal Hord Sculptures in San Diego
·  WPA Program in San Diego
·  Hidden Hummingbird Sanctuary in Balboa Park
·  The Legacy of Kate Sessions in Balboa Park
·  San Diego Carousels
·  Who Gives a Moreton Bay Fig
·  The Chapel in Balboa Park
·  The Ghosts of Gold Gulch Canyon in Balboa Park

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