When my 11-year-old son was invited to an archery-themed party, I wondered how he would take to it. I dabbled in toxophily myself as a kid, inspired by Robin Hood movies, but found it to be a tough discipline, requiring focus, steadiness and a strong arm. However I needn’t have worried, because the sport he was competing in was rather less demanding and considerably more fun.
I should have gleaned my first clue from the location: the basement of Glory Mall, near Chongwenmen. This is home to Sports Infinite, which offers a variety of simulations of sporting activities, as well as video and VR games. The quality of these is variable; “skiing” down a rolling travelator has little to do with the real thing, as far as I could see.
The archery however involves nothing so dull as shooting at straw targets. This is “archery tag”, in which two teams try to hit each other. Fear not for your precious offspring though, parents. The arrows are tipped with a heavy foam cylinder instead of a point.
The kids were first of all shown how to nock and shoot an arrow. The former archer in me grimaced a little at the lack of proper technique, but then I was being hustled out of the arena along with the other extraneous adults because the carnage was about to begin.
The arrows were all piled in the middle, and the bows at either end. On the referee’s whistle, the teams had to grab as many arrows as they could, dash back to their weapon and begin shooting. Anyone who was hit had to change sides.
The arena was small, but the shooting was marked by more enthusiasm than accuracy, and one team ended up standing on the center line and pelting the other, who lurked at the back and got shots off whenever they could. It was all good riotous fun, and only one child was reduced to tears after being hit in the face (wearing masks is obligatory, but an arrow at short range can still deliver quite a whack.)
It’s certainly an activity for older children – my younger son, aged eight, struggled to fit an arrow to the bow and keep it there while he aimed and shot. And at RMB 159 per child for an hour, it’s probably an occasional indulgence for most, rather than a new hobby. But if you’re looking for an alternative party idea where kids can really let off steam, then it might just hit the bullseye.
Sports Infinite (众体无限)
Address: B1 Glory Mall 18 Chongwenmen Dajie Dongcheng district. 东城区崇文门大街18号国瑞购物中心LG层 (6711 1666)
Photos: Andrew Killeen