The Pasadena Roving Archers was established in November of 1935 after a group of members of the Pasadena Target Archers attended a tournament in Redlands that featured the newly-invented sport of field archery. Like golf, in field archery archers move from one target to another along a predetermined course of 28 targets.
The original layout was very different from the current arrangement, although it occupies the same space. For the first few years, there were a number of extremely difficult shots including one that required archers to climb a tree and shoot while sitting on a branch. The course was reworked a few times, but by 1940 it was laid out essentially as it is today.
You can still see the footings of the PRA’s original clubhouse, built in the late 1930s, between targets 16 and 17. In 1945, a larger clubhouse was constructed north of target 1, from which the PRA operated until it was destroyed by arson in 2002.
By 1950, PRA was home to several national and international champions and had established itself as one of the premiere field ranges in the country, even hosting a national tournament in 1949 that attracted over 1500 participants and spectators.
After the Sagittarius Broadhead Range in Sylmar lost its property in 1950, it relocated to the northern end of the Lower Arroyo’s archery range area, where it operated until the early 1970s. By the mid-1960s, the proliferation of archery clubs across southern California (including three in the Lower Arroyo) had spread the numbers pretty thin, to the point that PRA’s membership declined to 16. They began offering free lessons to interested persons in order to boost membership.
PRA’s membership got a dramatic spike in 1975, when the city of Pasadena suddenly locked the gate at the target range and shut down the Pasadena Target Archers; when PTA folded, all of the existing memberships were transferred to PRA.
The Roving Archers signed an agreement with the city of Pasadena in 1972, making their beginning archery lessons an official part of the city’s recreation program. Today these classes serve over 10,000 students per year.