Bison and archery range tucked away in Golden Gate Park

8:57 AM, Nov 24, 2011   |    comments
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  • Irish John in Golden Gate Park
  • Bison in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

SAN FRANCISCO - The constant hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco can sometimes get the best of you. The challenge of parallel parking is brought to a whole new level on those incredibly steep streets. You have to find parking, and battle the crowds of The Embarcadero. And let's not forget about that $90 parking ticket I was slapped with.

Yes, it was time to slow things down. And I found my relaxation, at Golden Gate Park. The first guy I met was a real character. His name, is John Earle, but he's better known as 'Irish John'. And he teaches one thing - how to shoot arrows.

"It's funny, people all of the sudden say wow I really want to learn this, this looks cool, and then there's other people, I've had one lady out here with a guy's wife and she didn't want anything to do with it until I put a bow in her hands, and she was the last one to leave the field." He said.

You can find Earle and many of his students at the San Francisco Archery Range. Don't worry about getting hit by an arrow. He says you have a better chance of being struck by a golf ball.

Earle says back in the old days, when bows were used instead of bullets, people would dip the arrow tips into manure. That way, if you didn't die from the wound, you would certainly die from infection.

With that in mind, I drove just a couple of blocks away to check out the bison paddock. It was the first time I had seen bison outside of a zoo. At one point in time, bison were on the verge of extinction. Now, they're making a comeback. "Irish John" reminded me to not do anything foolish.

"We had some people creep over the fence once, those guys are dangerous, you have like a Cadillac coming at you, you're ground meat if you get over there." Earle said.

I decided to not hop over the fence and play chicken with the bison, and figured it was better to leave San Francisco in one piece. After all, I have a lot more of California to go check out.
Golden Gate Park is open everyday from sunrise to sunset. The archery range is free for you to practice. And if you want personal lessons, instructors are usually on hand, with prices ranging from $50 to $100 per hour.


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