Some folks believe in power to the people, and some do not. Those who do not are typically those who have lost their arguments but still want to have their very narrow way.


Case in point: Members of a group calling itself the Stewards of Public Land were not happy when the city did the right thing and allowed the Pasadena Roving Archers to continue operating in the Lower Arroyo, as they have safely done for decades.


I am pro-archery and proud to live in a city that allows this archery range to continue its tradition of teaching youth and adults a valuable life skill. Consider, for example, that every summer camp I have ever attended had an archery range, which was always popular. Archery is popular not just because of the romantic aspects for Robin Hood wannabes; it’s an Olympic sport that develops hand-to-eye coordination and muscular strength.


And consider that every culture on the planet practiced archery because of its many practical applications, competition being only one of them.


The Stewards claim that they “are not against archery.”  According to a Nov. 12 article in the Pasadena Weekly, “they are concerned about public safety and access to public land. They don’t want it taken away from hikers and other people and handed over for exclusive use.” I can hardly believe that Mitchell Tsai, the attorney for the group, said that with a straight face.  


If they were so concerned about public safety they would seek out the many other demonstrable threats to Pasadena residents and go to work on those. Public safety is just a made-up “concern” because there have never been any threats to public safety from the archery group, which always emphasizes safety in its courses. I highly doubt that members of the Stewards have actually been to the archery classes in progress. And I doubt that the Stewards have actually talked to any of the folks who use the range and witnessed the high character of those who practice there.


I find their claims laughable or made-up, such as their claims of 78 arrows landing in people’s backyards. Really? Please go to the range and look up the steep vertical cliffs to the backyards of the people way up on the hill. That very steep hillside protects the residents at the top. 


As for their claim of wanting access to public land, again, go there and look with your own eyes, then ask yourself how there is any denial of any access. First, most of the archery activity takes place on the weekends and is contained in a very narrow area. You don’t see archery going on 24 hours a day. But the trail that passes through there, following the cement part of the arroyo, can be walked 24 hours a day without ever needing to walk up to the base of the hill, where no walkers go anyway! It is a specious, made-up, pretend argument.


It is unclear what the real agenda is for this group, other than the fact that they are not archers and therefore don’t think archers should get to use that land.  


Perhaps they should go after the Rose Bowl, which, after all, uses that piece of land and all the parking “exclusively” forever! Or they should go after the Brookside Aquatic Center, a piece of land where nothing but swimming and diving can ever occur. Maybe they will go after the bicyclists next, because they object to biking enthusiasts threatening public safety.  


Even worse, maybe they should hire their attorney to eliminate the golf course, which is a huge parcel of land used exclusively for golfing, a place where hikers, dog-walkers, bird-watchers and insect hunters are not welcome.


There are trade-offs with everything in life. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. And everything has its cost. You cannot play football on lawns without impacting the natural flora and fauna there. Does that mean we should outlaw football? 


For that matter, one cannot farm foods without creating a major impact on the natural landscape, but we all accept farming as a necessity, or necessary evil, depending on your point of view.


I’m all in favor of “protecting” open and public land, and there is a lot of it to protect in the Lower Arroyo. But don’t assault the little space allotted to promote an activity that is for the greater good. Stewards, you had your day to present your case, and the people spoke, and you lost. Now go find other projects.  


I think we should all be supportive of our city, which has long been a leader in supporting uplifting sports, such as soccer on the lawns around the Bowl, bicycling, golf (true, I don’t golf, but so what?), running, hiking and, yes, archery. 


I encourage all citizens to support the right of the Pasadena Roving Archers to continue their use of that land for archery training in perpetuity, and to let City Manager Michael Beck know of their support.

Christopher Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere” and other books. He can be reached at PO Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or by visiting