Click photo to enlarge
Cari Renz, left, of Walnut Creek, Matthew Wright, center, and his mother Denise Wright, right, both of Rio Vista, walk towards one of their targets they shot at on their first course of the day at the the Diablo Bowmen Archery Range in Clayton, Calif., on Saturday, June 8, 2013. Archers show up at the club and register and then go out on to the range and shoot three rounds on different courses. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

You hear the arrow hit its 30-yard target.

On a quiet Thursday evening, Stacie Kierstead dons her arm guard, quiver of arrows and her compound release bow. She sets her eye on the sight, pulls the bowstring back to its fullest 211/4-inch draw length and releases the arrow, which lands an inch shy of the bull's-eye.

The Diablo Bowmen Archery Range, located on 84 acres tucked in the foothills of Clayton, is a favorite place for Kierstead. Many other members have concurred since acquiring the space in 1966.

"Even when I'm having a bad day at the archery range, it's a good day," says the Concord resident. "I clear my mind ... It's my yoga."

The public is invited to try their hand with a bow and arrow at the Diablo Bowmen Archery Club's annual open house this Saturday.

It is a sport with roots dating back at least to ancient Egyptian times -- more than 5,000 years ago -- and one that has a rich lore, with tales of William Tell shooting an apple off his son's head, or Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men.

And on this particular evening, Kierstead is joined by a new member, Scott Phillips, 20, who favors his simple recurve bow, relying on intuition, he says, rather than viewing through a sight. With a Welsh three-finger pull, the arrow is sent on its way toward its target.

The Eagle Scout was introduced to the sport in Scouting, and the idea that people of all ages and abilities can pursue the pastime is part of its enduring appeal.


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"It's a sport just about skill. Body type has no impact on how you shoot," he says.

"Everyone can shoot and be successful, whatever your skill level," adds Kierstead. "You always like to hit that spot."

It is introducing potential new archers to the sport that is a driving force for the club's ambassador, Kent Swindell, an avid archer for 30 years.

"To be able to teach someone who's never had the experience and show them how to do it right and safely ... and hopefully they'll pass that on," says the Concord resident.

He is a level-one instructor who has taught newbies from age 5 to seniors. He has played the four 14-target rounds -- featuring hunter, field and animal targets -- an average of two times per week. While Kierstead and Phillips state their bow preferences, Swindell leaves it open-ended.

"My preferred bow is what I'm shooting at the time," he says. "It's not the equipment, it's the person shooting it."

Like Kierstead, he relishes the range's peaceful environs.

"At times, I'll go out there and sit and listen to the silence and shoot a round," he adds. "It's a source of relaxation. It's like golf, but you pull your arrows out of a target."

And, the club's camaraderie is a big plus.

"Shooting is not an old boy's club," he says, noting the number of family memberships.

IF YOU GO
WHAT: Diablo Bowmen Archery Club open house
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Diablo Bowmen Archery Club, top of Oak Hill Lane, Clayton
COST: $10 includes lesson, lunch
INFORMATION: www.diablo-bowmen.org