Fans of The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, or Revolutions may be tempted to pick up a new game that may simulate their favorite characters and allow them to shoot their friends with zest: Archery Tag. Like dodgeball, Archery Tag involves two teams that usually consist of five players trying to knock out the centers of the opponents’ five-spot target. Players can take cover behind inflatable pillars on either side of the field as they maneuver around the obstacles to shoot the target or the opposing team members.
According to ArcheryTag.com, players win by either tagging out all of their “enemies” or all of the five-spots are knocked down from the opponents’ target. Players can also win by having the least amount of target centers knocked down when the time limit expires.
John Jackson, who is the founder of Archery Tag and S.A.F.E. Archery, told Guardian Liberty Voice in an email that the idea started in May of 2011 from his engineer, who works with Instinct Archery, a company that manufactures a variety of archery equipment, in Waterloo, Indiana. “He had the idea of how to attach foam to an arrow so that we could shoot each other,” Jackson said in the email. “We printed a rapid prototype [on a 3D printer], and within an hour of having the idea, we had a working prototype that I shot him with.”
The tips of the arrows are padded with a giant, marshmallow-like cushion that bounces off of objects when they hit. The arrows should only be used with traditional bows with a maximum draw weight of 28 pounds or less, according to Archery Tag’s website. Compared to an actual medieval bow, such as the English longbow that has a draw weight up to 200 pounds (about 90 kilograms), Archery Tag fans do not have to worry that playing this new game will result in skeletal and muscle deformities from the constant drawing and shooting their friends with a bow. The arrows should not be used with any other type of bow, such as a compound bow or crossbow.
Despite the perceived complexity of learning to shoot with a bow and arrow, Archery Tag is spreading worldwide. “People enjoy Archery Tag because it is intense enough for thrill seekers, yet safe enough for the timid,” said Jackson. “The adrenaline rush of watching an arrow flying toward you is something you don’t find in other games. Also, people who have never shot a bow adapt to the game very quickly. It is not intimidating like other sports, and it can be played anywhere, indoors or out. People of all shapes and sizes, and athletic abilities play. “
Can grown-ups play, too? Absolutely. “People of all ages play. That is one of the unique things about this sport. It truly engages the entire family. Additionally, people from ALL social economic backgrounds, religions, race, gender, and nationality love the game. We are in close to 30 countries now, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Ireland, Australia, Greece, and South Africa to name a few.”
In some ways, Archery Tag has elements from other existing popular games, like paintball and Laser tag. “Another unique thing is that the “intimidation factor” is low, unlike traditional target archery. This is a game that seems to invite people to try it because it looks fun and pain-free,” said Jackson. “Many people are reluctant to try paintball or airsoft and Laser tag lacks the physical element.
Jackson mentioned that Archery Tag is also a way to get people moving and sweating, and what better way to promote physical activity than “shooting” friends in a new game? “It utilizes muscles that most people don’t use on a regular basis. We frequently hear, ‘Wow, what a workout,” or ‘I’m sweating’.” Everyone comes away feeling good and wanting to play more. It has been a great way to get the kids out in the fresh air and using their muscles rather than playing video games in the camper, according to one campground owner.”
By Nick Ng
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