June 6, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hitting the Mark at Shooting Zone

Zack and Jeremy getting ready to fire.

I’m sure, like most readers, everyone has pretty much only participated in archery in one setting: camp. I remember first trying archery at Camp Regesh. But those bows and arrows were very basic, since we were little kids after all, and archery is a relatively dangerous sport if not approached with care.

It wasn’t until I was in high school, in the summer of 2015, working as a staff member at Mesorah Outback and essentially overseeing the ropes course and archery, that I began to take archery seriously. In my opinion, archery is a highly underrated sport that demands patience, focus and repetition. Having not been able to partake in competitive archery since then, at the recommendation of my good friend Jeremy, I decided to check out Bergen County’s newest archery facility, Shooting Zone, together with Jeremy for an evening of friendly competition and a delightful way to unwind.

Zack posing after his final wave of arrows.

Getting to Shooting Zone was surprisingly easy and they had ample parking. From Bergenfield, it’s around a five-minute drive. It’s located very close to the Continental Plaza buildings in Hackensack. The building of Shooting Zone reminded me of a giant, decked-out garage. There were multiple retractable walls wide open, allowing the warm spring air to enter the room and fill it with natural light. Inside, there were multiple sections of targets separated by curtains for people to enjoy firing arrows in private.

After checking in, we met the owner of the establishment, Jaesok. He shared that he had been an avid archer for nine years and decided to open up an archery facility in South Hackensack. Back then it was called Stark Archery, but after a few years and multiple location moves, he opened up Shooting Zone in its current location last year.

Nice form!

To begin, we watched an introductory safety video starring Jaesok. In the video, Jaesok went over the proper technique and safety tips to ensure that no one gets hurt accidentally. Since Jeremy and I were newcomers to Shooting Zone, our targets were in the beginner range, which was nine meters away. Jaesok told us that in professional indoor competitions (he recommended going to Bloomfield for the nearest ones), the standard distance is 18 meters. The outdoor competitive distance is 30 – 70 meters 70 with the nearest located at Brookdale Park.

At Mesorah Outback, we had used both recurve and compound bows. Compound bows are much heavier and more difficult to pull back, but when the arrow is released they shoot out at breakneck speeds. Recurves are more classic arrows with a lighter string to pull back. Since we were in the beginner range, Jeremy and I used the recurve and were each given five arrows. We then put on a fingertab grip on the dominant hand, which would be used to pull back the string, and a cover armguard on the less dominant arm to protect against any scratches from the arrow.

Jaesok showing Zack how to properly shoot.

Jaesok then instructed us on how to properly shoot: the arrows have three feathers sticking out the back, with one feather being a different color. The different colored feathers should be facing inward when placed on the bow. The back of the bow has a clip that connects onto the bow and, once secured, it makes a faint clicking noise. A key trick to archery is not to pull the bow back with the hand but to use arm strength and pull the forearm as far back as possible. The proper technique to hold the bow is to place the palm of the hand outwards and then curve it inward.

With the technique in place, Jeremy and I each had a practice round where Jaesok gave us direct feedback on how to improve our aim and form. While I thought I was an archery expert from my experience at Mesorah Outback, I was immediately humbled by how much better and more accurate Jaesok was than me. I am weirdly ambidextrous; I write with my left hand, but I play sports right-handed. Because of that, Jaesok told me that while I shoot the bow like a righty, my eyesight is actually left eye dominant. This meant that many of my shots were skewed to the right so I needed to slightly overcompensate for the mismatched cross-dominance.

Jeremy and Zack celebrate a great archery workout with their targets.

For the next hour, Jeremy and I were each given our own target to shoot at in our private section. It was a very relaxing activity where we were both able to chat while also getting in a solid workout since the wear and tear of pulling the string back is tiresome over time. I generally hit around the second and third most inner circles and only missed the target twice. Jeremy fared even better, generally hitting the innermost bullseye circle or second most inner circle and also rarely missing the target.

At the completion of the hour, a balloon is hung up at the dead center of the target and if the player can pop it, they get a free bow rental for their next visit. Besides regular archery, Shooting Zone offers archery tag. It’s basically a makeshift sport where the arrows have soft marshmallows on the tip and it follows dodgeball rules — you can’t shoot past a certain line, and if a player gets hit by an opposing team’s arrow, then they’re out. Archery tag can be played two vs. two and even up to five vs. five for special parties. For expert archers, there is another shooting area on the side with targets set up at a distance of 18 meters, and the targets are even smaller. It looks extremely difficult and mimics how archery looks in indoor competitions.

I am really glad to have visited Shooting Zone due to its great atmosphere, retractable walls, friendly staff, top-notch equipment, and the extensive training they offer. It is a very affordable, family-friendly activity and is local to Bergen County.

By Shooting Zone.

If you are looking for your next family outing and seeking something with a bit of excitement that still offers ample time to connect, I highly recommend checking out Shooting Zone for your next adventure.

Admission: 1 hour range time, $20; sharing a lane, $10, basic bow rental, $10; memberships available

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 12-9 p.m.; Friday, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 12-8 p.m.

26 Johnson Ave., Hackensack

(201) 440-1329

Website: www.shootingzone.net


Zachary Greenberg is a consultant at Semler Brossy and the track coach for TABC. Zack is also a candidate for the Teaneck Democratic Municipal Committee in District 15. Recently, Zack changed his first baby diaper for his newborn son, Koby. He also watched Season 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Disney+. To join in on Zack’s fun adventures, make sure you are following @funzacktivities on Instagram! If you have any recommendations of fun places for him to explore, please email [email protected].

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