NORWOOD – A sign on the door of the BayState Archery Training Center on a recent Monday morning read “closed,” but 11 members of the “elite” team were gathered on the range to begin their four-hour weekly workout.

“Everyone line up! Michael Allen, a trainer, was in command.

Quickly, everyone gathered their quivers and fired an arrow.

“It’s my quiet place,” Allen said.

Allen, owner of Norwood Training Center, said archery is enjoying a comeback in the area. Some people have tried archery once or twice as elementary students in summer camp or in school physical education class and that was it, but adults choose this sport as a regular activity or occasional hobby.

Archery enthusiasts call it a mental game, and Allen says he even has clients who have used it to help autistic children focus.

15-year-old Emily Polcaro of Boston has discovered that archery is something she enjoys doing. She trained for four hours every Monday and took a regular weekend class at BayState. She joined the elite team last November.

“Archery is not like other sports. It’s more mental. It’s all you,” she said.

Emily Polcaro, 15, practices archery with her self-designed slingshot at BayState Archers Training Center on April 4, 2022.

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association estimates that 7.3 million Americans participated in archery in 2021.

Archer Dayenne Walters said everyone was friendly.

“I find a supportive community here,” Walters said.

Walters went to an archery range 20 years ago, looking for inspiration for an art project, she said.

“I was thinking about old-school, Robin Hood-like arcs,” Walters recalled.

After:New festival and national park reopening to help Quincy tourism rebound, officials say

A furry house: South Shore Families Welcome New Members at Norwell Adoption Event

Instead, archery became part of his life.

“It’s very meditative,” Walters said. “You have to try it. It’s something satisfying when you hear that arrow fly. You can see it leave your bow and watch it sail until it hits the middle of the target.”

Boston's Pat Chu takes aim at BayState Archers Training Center Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

Bring people together

Allen first tried archery at a New Hampshire summer camp as a child. He worked at the camp as an archery instructor in the 1980s, then left the sport.

In 2000 he saw a notice board for a newly opened archery club in Dedham owned by a man named Anthony Bellettini, who provided a simple, no-frills range for local enthusiasts to come to practice.

Elite members of the BayState Archers Training Center train on April 4, 2022.

Allen stopped at Bellettini’s range to buy a bow so he could return to his old sport, a commitment Bellettini discouraged him from taking right away.

“Growing up, I hated people who told me I couldn’t do something. To me, that was the deepest insult,” Allen said. “I just looked at it and said, ‘I’m buying two bows. “

Allen bought the second bow for his brother, Keith, and the two began training regularly at the Bellettini shooting range. Gradually they started volunteering to help keep the range running. The range moved to Norwood and became the BayState Archery Center.

“Anthony had this ability to bring people together,” Michael Allen recalled of his friend.

Emily Polcaro, 15, and Scott Matalon train at BayState Archers Training Center on April 4, 2022.

Bellettini died in February 2019. Keith Allen said he knew if he and his brother didn’t step in, regular archers would lose a place they had come to love.

The Allen brothers opened the range in April 2019 with help and donations from customers. They inherited Bellettini’s style and rules and even placed Bellettini pictures near the entrance. Music from the 1980s is playing on the speakers.

A collection of photos of Anthony Bellettini at the BayState Archers Training Center on April 4, 2022.

A slow recovery

The BayState Archers Training Center has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, its owners said. The range moved into a new, larger facility just weeks before the pandemic hit and customer numbers plummeted.

Pat Chu and Carlos Vasquez of Boston at the BayState Archers Training Center on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

Keith Allen was diagnosed with COVID-19 relatively early and was put on a ventilator at a local hospital. Michael Allen worried about his brother while juggling a full-time job and trying to keep the lineup afloat.

BayState is still enforcing strict COVID-19 protocols — archers must mask up, surfaces are wiped down between uses, and there are plastic barriers between archers — but customers old and new have returned to shoot again. ‘last year.

Boston's Pat Chu and Carlos Vasquez take aim at the BayState Archers Training Center Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

The range can serve up to 13 customers at a time, and Allen estimates that 100 people come to take pictures every week, whether for a class or just to practice. Despite some recovery, the range is barely breaking even, said Michael Allen.

He explained that archery ranges require a lot of space to make a profit, and New England rents are high.

It costs $15 for the first hour at BayState and $5 for every additional 30 minutes thereafter. Equipment rental costs an additional $5. The beach also hosts summer courses for students.

Thank you to our subscribers, who help make this coverage possible. If you are not a subscriber, please consider supporting quality local journalism with a Patriot Ledger subscription.

Pat Chu, of Boston, records his scores via a mobile app for his training course at BayState Archers Training Center on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

Contact Hongyu Liu at [email protected]